So I took in a much younger friend who desperately needed to get out of her abusive, religious home. So she's been here for a couple of weeks. I knew she was still Christian, though I suppose I thought more deist than anything (because, like most religious people, she has serious complaints with organized religion but not what it organizes around). Well over the past two weeks I've realized that she's very politically conservative, definitely a believer, and furthermore a creationist. This came up when I asked (VERY gently, for me) "Do you accept evolution?" She said, no she doesn't "believe in evolution".

She and I have similar backgrounds. Hers is a great deal more recent, and I have to remind myself she's 17. I think still largely carrying her parent's beliefs at this point is pretty normal and probably okay. But there's part of me that wants to push her to atheism, or to liberalism, or to secular humanism. It's very tempting to try to mold and shape her - HERE'S the way out of crazy fundy-town! Listen to me, I know, I've done it! But I'm trying to be gentle, to give her space and time and let her do her own thing in this regard. (She knows it would be pointless to proselytize to me, and that she can't do it to my son.) Should I say anything? How can I not? How can I say something, without abusing my position over her (rent-payer)?

I did sort of lose it when she told me Barack Obama doesn't have a "real" birth certificate. And then once I calmed down a bit I showed her Snopes.com and FactCheck.org, and encouraged her not to just take my word for things either. But seriously, the birther conspiracy is so easily debunked. She clearly doesn't have a SET of critical thinking tools yet, and I don't know how to give them to her. Help?!

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You have a golden opportunity. I know I have been in similar situations. Give her a role model, YOU. Casually introducing new ideas, showing her a whole new world in an almost off hand way.
DO NOT fight with her, about her "beliefs" people can definitely change, and there are many different forms of influence, you can be a big one!! You be just what you are the atheist who took her in when she had no where else to go, the big sister who never judged her when she said idiotic things. I don't know this girl but I do know it is possible. Hang in there, don't listen to the pessimists.
I've dealt with a similar situation. I just acted like myself around him (he'd been beaten bloody and cast out of his family for being gay) and didn't bite my tongue if he said something harebrained. I just calmly and politely corrected him or gave him a nice book to read. But I went on about my polyamorous secular humanist life.

He worked his way from Christian fundie to liberal Christian to Pagan to an agnostic. This process has taken him about fifteen years.

I don't take the credit but simply the fact that I was an atheist and I gave him unconditional love opened his eyes. Once he really realized that he had "permission" to be himself, he started exploring both his sexuality and his spirituality.

I don't recommend trying to change anyone, just be a good example. By that I do NOT mean changing your behavior, I mean just being the loving human being you are.

I took in quite a few teens, back when I was able. Most of them came from uber religious households. Funny how religion goes hand-in-hand with abuse.
Good job Kylyssa!! Very fulfilling isn't it?
Electro shock therapy followed by mind control drugs It's for her own good !!!! :-)

Sorry

Fundies want everyone to think like they think it is part of the power control herd mentality thing.

If you just show her that it is possible to hold different ideas and beliefs then hopefully a new vision of the world will open for her. It may not be atheism it may be a more tolerant and less abusive form of religion.

Help her to explore her options, be her guide.

I would look at taking her to different places and giving her different experiences art galleries, museums, movies, even churches and other faiths if they are in your area. A good night out drinking always helps as well :-)
Sadly we're two carless broke chicks, so getting out and about is always a challenge (plus I have a three year old, so numerous complications there!). But this week she told me she wants to get married to her boyfriend (an idiot, nice but an idiot) and have a baby right away, because she thinks the rapture is coming in the next three years. It's almost painful to watch how much her beliefs actively hurt her, when I know that it's all utter nonsense she's torturing herself with. I wish I could just *give* her the answer, say that the world isn't ending yet and have her believe me.
because she thinks the rapture is coming in the next three years

Maybe just ask her point blank, "But what if it doesn't?"

Perhaps there's something here that you could share with her in a nonthreatening way?

http://home.earthlink.net/%7Ejcmmsm/SDApocalyptic.html

It's specifically for SDA, but it applies just as well to other end time expectations.
When I made my comment that you cannot change people, I gave my reasons as to why you cannot. Change comes from the person. However, you can influence, but you have to understand where they are at, to have any affect at all.

This is why I said, focus on #1. The need to change.

You can help someone. It's not hopeless by any means. You just have to acknowlege firstly, that you have no real power to change them. They must change themselves.

And you cannot, no matter how rational you are force critical thinking on them. Faith, is ultimately taking something as true, that cannot be verified, but can be RATIONALLY explained. The Catholics are very good at this.

Not all people of faith are irrational by default.

When doubt occurs, accept it. Just let them be. And let them know YOUR rules and boundaries within your home despite their beliefs.

I have never changed anyone. I've allowed them to think. I've given them the space and love..that they needed to think. They cannot change if I challenge their faith in the first place.THEY need to challenge it.

I know they are wrong. I do not need to prove it. If I care for them, I will help them deal with it.

Can you empathize with a human who is coming to the very slow, and dreadful realization that life, has no God, no meaning and that they will one day die. Can you tell a human, that No suffering they have gone through has any meaning?

This is what the believer deals with. Be Gentle. It's very, very hard on them.

Cheers
I was a believer. I know. For me casting off religions was like being saved. I can't tell you how glad I've been ever since that day that I'm no longer a believer. I'm angry at what was done to my mind and my body in the name of gawd, and the crimes committed in that name across the globe. But I don't miss my faith at all.

But I can empathize.
Good on ya Angie!
But for now, I think everyone here is right: you can't change her mind for her. And remember that YOUR way out of "crazy fundy-town" may not be HER way out of crazy fundy-town.

For helping her with critical thinking skills, maybe when she's said something utterly insane ask her "Why do you think that?" Start a conversation about it and then just be your darling self about it. But not being judgemental or aggressive, ask questions like you do with your online Mormons. Get her to explain what she thinks and then ask her to match it reality.

But don't jump her and shove anti-tracts at her. Leaving your atheist literature on the coffee table accidentally-on-purpose is ok, putting them on her bed is not.
Reading The God Delusion and leaving it out as you go can also be useful,as well as watching Dawkins and other programs on the net.
I have a fundy friend and i told her you can't change me and i can't change you. Change is has to be something she wants and having you as a role model might help.
Well she overhears Atheist Experience and Chariots of Iron :)
Angie,

you are making a difference.

4 years ago I heard Penn Jillette on his radio show say he was an atheist so plainly that it shocked me. That calm confidence in his statement was the beginning of my own search for truth. I had never actually heard an atheist point of view. Never crossed my mind. Once it did, I had to sort it out. Turns out, all my major beliefs were turned upside down.

4 years from now, she may tell you the same thing about her time with you.

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