Wow, I haven't logged into Think Atheist in over a year! But anyway, that isn't what I wanted to talk about.

I have talked to her before but my discussion is probably buried somewhere in my profile but I'll just try to explain what is happening and why I am actually getting sick to my stomach because of all of this.

My dad's oldest sister is insanely religious. The most religious relative-- the most religious person I have ever met. She lives on the West Coast and I live in the "Tornado Alley". I have not seen her in five years and she is flying in on Wednesday. The thing is, I am obviously an Atheist and everyone keeps telling me to keep quiet about it because it would ruin her trip here. Look... when she comes over she forces all of us to pray the rosary either at home or each time we are in a car with her. She is going to force us to go to church. She is going to for me to go to confessions... guys, I'm 22 years old. My parents are so chill about my Atheism and respect me and my sister so much about us being Atheist because they're also somewhat Atheist. But guys, I haven't gone in a church in like seven years. I cannot remember prayers, how confession works anymore, nothing. I AM DEAD. I am incredibly terrified of my aunt. I mean I am genuinely scared of her coming over. I really don't know what to do. I don't want to pretend to be religious to make her comfortable. It's just driving me insane. Again, my dad's other siblings know about my Atheism and have warned me to keep quiet about it around her. I just can't right now.

What would you guys do or what advice would you give me?

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At 22 years of age, you should calmly tell her that she is free to pray and go to church all she wants, but you respectfully decline to participate.  She can  then react any way she wants after you walk away.


It seems like (from what you've described) you have nothing to gain by being there when she comes. Everyone around has actively said they will placate and put up with her, she is extremely religious and unlikely to change and you will find the whole ordeal painful whether you tollerate her and pretend you're religious or come out to her and demand she respect your atheism and all of the grief that comes with it.

Consider going and staying with a friend while she is there.

I agree.  Get away.  There's no need to go through all that stress.  Whatever fallout you might face isn't going to be as bad as the ordeal you are describing. 

This was my first thought as well.  Be around for either the first day, or come back for the last day to say "hi" and put up with one grace at dinner with the family.  Just enough to maintain a connection, and to give you the opportunity to see if she's mellowing at all, so that you can make informed decisions about future visits.  Otherwise, have another engagement for work or volunteering or some such so that you're not available.

I would wish that an older, faithful relative or cleric would give her some instruction on the foolishness of that sort of overly demonstrative public prayer, but that's not your role.

I would wish that an older, faithful relative or cleric would give her some instruction on the foolishness of that sort of overly demonstrative public prayer, but that's not your role.

But you still have a right to hold your ground and just say no, if you wish.

I was watching a BBC thing today about tolerance vs intolerance. It made me think up a quote (for me, at least) to remember:

Any ideology too weak to allow criticism of itself deserves no respect or acceptance.

(I'm not saying stay there and fight.)

Any ideology too weak to allow criticism of itself deserves no respect or acceptance.

I like your quote; it reminds me of a rabbinical quote about early Christianity.

We're not talking about an ideology here, though.  We're talking about an aunt.  Best not to confuse the idiosyncratic views and needs of people with an ideology.

For people, most of the time it's best just to try to be pleasant and accepting of their foibles as we can be.  And, too, recognize the limits of our own patience, and adjust our behavior (or location) to compensate.

Staying with a friend may be the best way to keep the peace. But if you decide to stay, be calm, be polite, be firm. You can only control you. How she reacts is on her.

I would like to forward to you a summary of what I have written to another member.

"Religion and belief have, and always will be, touchy topics, and must be handled delicately and specifically upon the situation at hand. That is my opinion. If you can adapt to an ever-changing environment, then life seems to treat you much better.

You are going to have to convince your fear that there are 7 billion people on the planet and you are most likely going to piss 99.9999% of them off in some way, shape, or form. Do yourself a favor, don't try to make them happy.

Pack animals (what we and the majority of other mammals are) have often been seen to change their behavior to better fit into a group. This is called Asch Conformity.

That said, we're intelligent enough to be capable of doing something that doesn't necessarily correlate with our true feelings. This is where I suggest to you a Sociopathic Tactic. If you're in a situation where it benefits you to do the opposite of what you feel, then do it. Balance the pros and cons. See what benefits you first and foremost.

I personally avoid bringing certain topics up unless I'm hungry for an argument. If the topic comes up, I'll usually assess the situation and whether or not the person is worth expressing my opinion to. My parents know full well I shun their belief, which I try to make inexplicably clear every time I receive an email completely diluted with denial and heartfelt bible verses. My grandparents are elderly and there's no reason to concern them with something like that, so I indulge their "words of wisdom" because I care about them. When my siblings come to me for questions, I'll tell them my thoughts if I think they are mature enough to truly grasp and contemplate them."

As for you, I suggest this:

It is, from my experience, that many Christian's know they have next to no leg to stand on when it comes to religion (they are simply so blinded by their own willing denial), hence why so many usually attempt to end a religious debacle with "we can't begin to understand god's will or reason", to which I usually reply, "then how do you know you're accurately executing his will?", but that's beside the point.

You don't see your aunt often. Personally, if I felt like it wasn't worth the potential outbreak, I may slide by with the barest possible show of religiousness. Like I said above, think about yourself first and foremost. Is it to your benefit to pretend you're religious for a few days, or to come out at the opportune moment and 'just say no', as our education system likes to put it.

These days, I see myself more likely doing the latter. I probably wouldn't bother performing any religious traditions, like praying in the car or going to church, and when she finally mentioned the elephant in the room, say something along the lines of, "I don't believe the same way you do." (if you want to be nice about it, considering it's your family. I'm not usually so nice with strangers for simply assuming everyone around them believes the same way.)

Or, leaving your house isn't necessarily a bad idea like the others have suggested. The only problem I find with that is allowing someone else to push you out of your own home, and a theist of all people. If you think that is best for your own benefit, then that's fine. I'd do the same in that case. But like I said, I don't know your family. You have to figure out if confrontation is best or not. I hope you figure it out, Bouncy Edhel. Good luck.

And regardless, don't be scared of the Christians. They're more scared of you than you are of them.

"They're more scared of you than you are of them."

- wanna bet? 

She gets here tomorrow. Sigh. Honestly, I feel like just being like, "You know what? No. I'm not going to go to church and I'm not going to pray everywhere we go." But I'm still debating whether to do that or not. Honestly, I forgot how to pray! I don't remember any of that nonsense!

If you've got to stay, then just don't stress.  Refuse to get stressed out.  Let it all wash over you.  Find a philosophical way to accept her and her nonsense for who she is.  She means well after all, or perhaps she's a bit of a bully. 

Erock68la is right (perhaps he's a Stoic): how you react is up to you.  You can either be your own friend or your own enemy, letting it go versus stressing out. 

Being spiritual here (I think), it's your ego that protests.  Change your ego to one that doesn't protest.  Live in the moment and then let it go.  Then perhaps you'll be able to get through it.  After she's left, switch your belief systems back on.  Otherwise, you're going to stress yourself to pieces. 


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