Hello, I recently joined this site to help myself with being more open about my atheist views. For starters, my formative years were spent up north, and as such, I was not indoctrinated heavily into religion. That changed when my family moved south, to Georgia. I did not understand the religious culture of the region, despite my parents enrolling my younger sister and I in Sunday school. That's where the root of my issues with religion began.
From an early age I was fascinated by dinosaurs and read heavily about them. When my parents would show me the book of Genesis in our children's bible, I was confused as to why the dinosaurs were never mentioned, creating some cognitive dissonance. I later learned of the Theory of Evolution and the Earth's geological age. It just made so much sense to me, and I went so far as to argue in favor of evolution in Sunday school( which I think now makes about as much sense as trying to get rid of fire ants by stepping on them barefoot). I was later placed into a confirmation class at my local church, and learned more of the bible. The more I learned, the less the stories made sense. Despite being confirmed in front of my congregation, I still never believed it all.
I later began to come out as an atheist during my sophomore year in high school, due to my disgust with a teacher I had, who was openly religious, but made blatantly false statements, such as Mary and Joseph hiding Jesus from Pharoah and Moses being born at the same time. I was furious. How could someone be so religious but not have their core facts straight? My parents were still accepting of my newfound lack of beliefs, but still encouraged me to go to church with them for Christmas and Easter. When I went, I felt uncomfortable.
Nothing much changed for a good while, due largely in part to my addiction to World of Warcraft( which I now refer to as Waste of Timecraft), which I stopped playing towards the end of my first semester at college( I'm studying mechanical engineering at SPSU). With more time available, I began to think more about religion, since my youngest sister was going to Sunday school with her friends. I felt it was a sort of duty to me to help her think critically about religion and not become a religious fanatic like so many of my former friends. I'm sure my father would have supported me with my endeavor, but due to my parents' separation last year, my mother has gotten onto me about me being open about my atheism and even gets mad at me for posting anything that comments on religion on Facebook, since she sees my beliefs as looking badly on her here in the Bible belt. I find that ironic, as both my parents are from Connecticut and are socially liberal with just about everything.
I now feel as though I'm walking a fine line at home, knowing that if I get too open about my beliefs, I feel I run the risk of being kicked out( I'm commuting to class and haven't had a job in a while). So that's why I'm here. I want to know how to be more open about my atheism given it's status as a taboo where I live, help my mother realize that she didn't fail to raise me right spiritually, and safeguard my younger sister from becoming a religious zealot, like those I faced growing up.

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Jeff, I was in college and a "baby" sister in fourth grade loved  simple math questions, like "Add two numbers and get twelve; subtract the little one from the big one and get two". I couldn't think them up fast enough for her.

In fifth grade she wanted nothing to do with them. I wondered if someone she liked told her girls don't like math.

Do you trust your sister to do the same, if she feels a need to?

If a bible thumper complains to your mother about you, will she tell you so and talk with you about the pressures she's feeling?

I hope so.

Jeff, you sound like a really neat person.  That's awesome you want to help your sister.  I'm glad you found AN, because this is a wonderful place to be.  Post often!~Melinda

Patience is your best asset at your age, in my opinion. The urge to bust out of the demented lies of religion is overpowering sometimes. But if you are living in a conservative religious community, then your best bet is to bide your time. Just accept that you have to be a cultural Christian, go along with the motions of going to church and keeping up appearances. When you are older and wiser, and can see the whole consequences of coming out, then you can decide for yourself whether it's worth it to speak up. Busting up with your mother is traumatic and is best avoided if you can.

As for your sister, I would teach her by example to trust her own head about what is real, and trust her own heart about what we are living for. If she seems to be drifting into religious zealotry then distract her heart with emotionally fulfilling activities that aren't religious, and keep her head straight by presenting both sides of an argument to her. Good luck.

Welcome, Jeff! I hope you like it here! I'm finding it warm and supportive. 

Since I'm the last person in the world qualified to give "happy family" advice, I'll leave it at the "welcome!"  Please post often! I look forward to seeing you around the Forum.

Welcome Jeff glad you found us.  As for being more open about your atheism take Michael R's advice and be patient.

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