Although I told my parents that I am an agnostic and do not feel bound by their laws and restrictions they have steadfastly refused to budge on the issue. Currently I have no alternative but to violate their laws behind their back, to my dismay. Any advice on how you would deal with it, or have any of you had anything similar occur to you in the past?

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Tough situation you're in, Emanuel. It gets better in time. It seems that once they realize that you're not just going through some phase, they lighten up some.
I haven't said anything to my parents. And it's probably for the best, at least while I'm still living at home with them. It's also easy because we never discuss religion nor have we ever gone to church. I get the feeling that they assume my little sister and I just believe, which we don't.
I would do the same, except I live in an orthodox Jewish family, and so there are consequences to their beliefs, and by forced extension, me. Their laws conflict with my social life, activities, and academic life, and I just can’t tolerate it. Its one thing if its annoying but they won’t even accept that I don’t believe it. Looking back on it, proclaiming my atheism might not have done anything for me, but I couldn’t have predicted that beforehand.
Hi Emanuel. My home was also orthodox Jewish. Went to Yeshiva right through college. Parents wanted to boycott my wedding almost 30 years ago because my wife, though Jewish, was hardly at all observant. They insisted I wear a yarmulke whenever I was in their home, put on tefillin, attend synagogue etc. Once I was fully comfortable with my choices I was also comfortable in politely (sometimes less politely) but firmly saying no. They had all the typical arguments. Do it our of respect for them, someday you will change your mind and regret this, do it out of respect for your grandparents, you'll burn in hell etc. etc. Their home was headache inducing.

The most important thing for me was to be able to have the conversation in the first place in a nonconfrontational manner. That was very hard since to them I was rejecting everything they stood for. I learned to quietly ask questions. How does your coercing me to wear an article of clothing representing something I don't believe show respect for you or me? Same for saying prayers I don't believe.

It was painful and difficult and slow. It took many years for attitudes to change. Things turned around the most when it became apparent that if they cut me out I was prepared to leave them behind. When I let them know that their cutting comments were not acceptable they stopped them. They assumed initially that I was not observant just so I could blend in with the rest of society. It was more shocking to them to discover that I was religiously irreligious. I actively rejected their beliefs.

You have a long road ahead of you. What you have here is a community able to share their history. You don't have to do this alone.
Best of luck.
What laws and restrictions are you referring to here?
There are 613 Mitzvot, or commandments that Jews should be following. There are 248 lo taases, the Hebrew term for a do not do commandment. All of those place restrictions on daily life. For instance, no electricity every Saturday, keeping kosher, no using electricity on the Jewish holidays and so on and so forth. I think you get the picture
Sounds like your parents are ultra-orthodox. I know it sounds like little comfort now but your exposure to that will have a strengthening effect on you. To your eventual freedom, Emanuel.
I agree completely.
I was raised in a hyper Christian Pentecostal Holiness family and, oddly enough, it created a great foundation to base my disbelief. The most religious are the ones that know the least about their religion or any other.
"The most religious are the ones that know the least about their religion or any other."

- I agree. Most religious people I know are those who tend to just take whatever it is that their leaders spoonfeed them and accept it as the truth, with no desires whatsoever to verify it.
I just lost my best friend that I've had since I was a kid.
We've been through so many things, including first crushes, horrible teenage years, and the birth of her first child. She couldn't understand my "awakening" towards atheism and noted it as "attention seeking behavior" and slandered my name to her other friends that I am not personally friends with. She is a non-practicing Christian (like many) that believes the Bible is fundamentally true and that even she is wrong and will be judged, but could not accept my complete disagreement in the Bible.

There were more issues to our situation, but I've found it very liberating to know that I am completely honest about myself. It leaves room to accept more like minded freethinkers. We don't have the time on this rock to waste pandering to the religious.
I'm so sorry to hear that. I lost so many 'friends' when I chose to walk away from religion. When the smoke of my actions cleared, I was divorced and living in a frat-house-like rental property with no hot water and little money. Most of our mutual friends sided with the ex and joined her in a campaign of slander and ridicule that has alienated me from my mother, father, and siblings.

I'm African American and I only point that to help illustrate just how difficult it's been to live on the other side of my decision to come out. My mother is a Jesus-zombie, complete with all the attributes, and I let her over-bearing ways convince me that everything I had a problem with in Christianity was because I wasn't smart enough to understand God---my openly inquisitive nature was literally slapped out of me when I questioned some contradictions in the 'good book' at 11 years old.

Like most Christian mothers, her answer was a more progressive God-fearing church (we HAD been attending the Kingdom Hall with a family friend up until I questioned scripture). Questioning the almighty got me a trip to Sunday school and associated cult services for the next 5 years at Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist church. Now if you've ever been to a 'Black' church, then you know the spectacle…talk about a mind-f**k!!!

With no one to nurture my skepticism, I convinced myself that I really was the problem---for whatever reason, God did not see fit to bless me with the ‘spirit’ to know him like my brothers and sister had. As stupid as it sounds, instead of running from the madness, I began a 20 year struggle of trying to figure what about me was so displeasing to God.

Looking back, it’s easy to see why I married so early (part fear of being alone, part hope of marrying a God-fearing woman to get ‘right’ with God). Less than a year into my marriage I was miserable – clinically depressed but ignorant about it. Before I could correct my mistake of matrimony, she was pregnant and I wasn’t about to leave the mother of my child, so I hung on. Things got better. We settled into a life that was manageable/happy in spots, but I began to understand some things about my wife that I probably would have noticed had I learned to think for myself in my teens---she couldn’t be without church; IT had to be a part of our lives.

When I didn’t want to go, she didn’t want to entertain the “why”, she had her uncle (a minister) convince me that I was harboring an evil spirit and that I needed to be saved again (my first time was 16). That baptism was the 2nd of 5 attempts to wash me ‘clean’ and I tell you, by the time I did the 5th one, I was deep in the clutches of a clinical depression that eventually led to a suicide attempt at age 38---it was when I woke up in the hospital that I decided that I could no longer live my life lying about what I believed and I needed to make some changes.

Coming out to the wife, got me a visit from a merry band of Jesus-zombies with intent to ‘lay hands’ on me, when I refused to be molested by the mob, she told me that I was suffering because I didn’t really want God in my life---Satan was destroying me. That was when I knew I couldn’t live the rest of my life with her; she really believed that I was possessed by a demon---wtf???

Still, I explained to her that I didn’t believe in God/Satan anymore and that I’d quietly been researching Christianity and other religions---I told her that I was convinced that she and I had been misled all of our lives; that we were cult members and, in our madness, we were indoctrinating our children into a lifestyle that will eventually strip them of the ability to reason and think for themselves. She told me that I had indeed gone mad that I needed to ‘find my way back’ to God.

Since the divorce, I’m not on anti-depressants---coincidence, I THINK NOT!!!!---lol.
I’ve learned the hard way that trying to fit God/Jesus into reality will drive you crazy.

Happy New Year!!!
Interesting perspective you offer, Keith. Atheism is almost completely unheard of in the black community. You're a courageous individual.

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