How do I make it clear to my family that I'm an atheist?

Three years ago I realized that I didn't really believe in everything that's said in the bible (well, mostly I was just confused), so I started going to church with one of my friends. See, I'd voiced my concerns to said friend and she told me that her preacher would clear it all up for me. After my sixth time going I noticed I was more confused than I was before so I asked the preacher about it and instead of really answering he began quoting psalms and kept saying, "The bible was written by God so it is the most accurate book ever written". Frustrated, I dropped church and starting researching the bible and a few other religions on my own, which was really getting me nowhere, intill my dad started talking about religion on a car ride to my grandparents. I never really knew what my parents really believed in till then and I discovered that both my parents had the same confusions as me, my dad admited to being agnostic and my mom said she didn't think that all of the stories were true. So I began watching evolutionism videos with my dad and I realized that I real didn't believe anything in the bible anymore, it didn't make sense to me and I no longer wanted to be apart of it. I told my mom this discovery, hoping that she'd except why I wasn't going to church camp that summer, but she was furious. She screamed at me saying that i was going to burn in hell and then she kept crying for hours intill i apoligized and said that I didn't mean it. I don't know what to do. I hate feeling like a fraud at all of these religious things but if I tried to come out again my mom will send me off to this camp where you're "supposed" to get more "intouch" with god like she said she would last time, plus she says I should be happy she didn't tell my grandparents who would have disowned me. My dad seems to be somewhat accepting but keeps saying that I'm too young to be an atheist and that our family should really start going to church. How to I make it clear to my family that I'm an atheist?

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Without venturing into your personal relationships Katie it would appear that the biggest stumbling block is the social pressures families are under. As your parents have both expressed doubts is it not possible to maintain a discourse with your parents along these lines, there are some Atheists on A/N that somehow manage to maintain their Atheism and maintain a social 'front' to stave of serious family problems, some even report on site what the church is saying.
However this may seem a little disingenuous especially to someone as young and no doubt beginning to assert their own identity.
Perhaps also that hits on a problem faced by all teenagers whatever they declare their interests to be, assertion of ones own identity. This is an area fraught with difficulties so perhaps a slowly slowly approach could serve you better as you find out more about the Bible and measure that against other opinions and your own growing sense of identity. The better informed you are the more cogent arguments you will be able to put forward in stating your case.
The question is not "how?" but "why?" No offense, but you're 17 and living at home. Now is not the time to be burning bridges. I know it's distasteful to be false, especially to yourself, but this is not a perfect world, we are not perfect creatures and there are times when, as much as you may hate it, you're better off just lying. Look at it pragmatically -

What is to be gained by outing yourself right now ?

What is to be lost ?


You have admitted your godlessness to yourself, therefore I also assume you've embraced rationality. Well, look at it rationally. What is the sensible thing to do ? Just grin and bear it. When it gets too much, come here and bitch to us. Just remember, it can't rain every day. When you are independent, shout it out to the world. But not today.

And as a before-its-too-late note, you may want to consider changing your ID here (if you're using your real name). Google knows everything, and stuff like your membership here usually waits until the worst possible time for people you know to find it. There is no shame in anonymity - and numerous non-atheist related reasons why it's sensible.
Burning bridges is not the logical or necessary consequence of coming out to your parents. My parents are believers. Not the staunchest Catholics, fairly critical of the Church as an institution, but still believers of sort. So is my aunt and, again, most of my family. My atheism is no longer a secret but I'm still on good terms with them. I've actually managed to get some of my closest relatives to agree with me on a thing or two. When I came out of the closet to my parents I think I was about 18. Their immediate reaction was similar to your dad's, I suppose. They assumed it was just a phase, that I'd grow out of it and that, in general, I was a bit too young to make such a claim about myself. Well, there's very little you can do about that except being consistent. That will show them you're a mature person before being an atheist. I suggest you talk things through with your dad first, since he seems to be the most accepting person in your family. Make him understand that he's talking to a young adult and not a kid. I'm sure that will ease things up and he might even manage to calm your mum down. After all she seems to be genuinely concerned about her daughter's safety, which is admirable. It's probably her religious conditioning, it doesn't allow her to consider atheism as an option despite her own doubts as far as parts of the Bible go. Talking is the key :) I hope it all works out well for you.
In the bigger picture of having a roof over your head at your age, I agree with Felch. You may have to fake it for a while longer and let us know how it's going. If you have to go to the boot camp for god, ask a million questions, always demanding a rational answer. Maybe someday ask your mom how will heaven be for her knowing you're burning for eternity in hell. Will it be heaven for her? What kind of good god does she believe in if he sends her daughter to hell for not believing there's a ghost in the room yet will accept a serial pedophile as long as he asks for her god's forgiveness? The morality of eternal salvation is baseless.
I was in a similar situation when I was your age.. roughly 6 years ago. I was living at home, a senior in High School. My parents weren't the most religious, but they celebrated the major events in Christianity.. birth/resurrection of Christ, etc. When I told them that I had my doubts, after coming out to my peers (close friends first, was not a pleasant experience considering I was a member of the FCA before hand ROFL at me...) they were actually more understanding.

I didn't come right out and say it up front as in 'Your god is a false god'. I slowly brought it up to them, and now they firmly accept where I stand in my beliefs. Question little things first... like why if the Bible says you should treat your wife as below human, do we constantly strive to treat all people fairly...? LOL. That is my one of my favorites.

Back on topic, you should do so slowly and tread with caution. Family can be a great thing, but when they begin to pressure you to believe in something you just can't wrap your mind around, then they aren't really providing you unconditional support (a part of being a family from what I understand).... are they?

As you can tell, I now live on my own, and am not an atheist so much as I am an Anti-Theist, and don't care whom I piss off. Lol. Don't take after me, though, as I have essentially cut myself off from the rest of my family (minus my siblings and parents) of my own volition unless you want to see some people really really angry. Yeah, it makes birthdays a little less of a giant get together, but everyone there has no problem with my views. :)
It doesn't sound like your dad is too sure about his stance, if he thinks that you should go to church. I apologize for saying this, but your mom sounds like a bully. I'd try to avoid big arguments, while standing strong in what I believe. I failed catechism in the eight grade, and my mom never brought it up again. I was proud to get my first "F". I'm amazed at any parent who'd tell a child that they will burn in hell, and cry until the child apologizes. She's manipulating you.
Seriously show her this post. That would be my first thing and then tell her how much you love her and him and tell them it would not be fair to lie about how I feel. Then explain that you don't want to believe in something just to protect yourself from something you don't actually believe anyway. I myself struggled with my change because I feared that Satan was actually putting these ideas in my head, as I was told by my Pastor. Instead of bracing my new liberating idea that God was not real, I instead feared hell "just in case". Then one day I realized that I truly didn't believe and that the control part of religion was what was actually my problem. I decided one day I would be honest with my self and proclaim my non belief. My parents were both upset but with time its gotten a bit more easier. So I supose what I would tell them would you like me to lie to you about how I truly feel? Don't be ashamed about how you feel its hard when you "convert" and try and understand their fears as well. A little side note after my father passed away I quit using the word Atheist around my mother and started using Secular Humanist, it actually helps avoid some of the friction. I have sent a friend request to see how things go for you, good luck, it can be rocky.
Isn't it a sin to lie as well? If you go by their view, and just don't be who you are, you are lying and your mother might see you as sinning. I say mother, because if she was a mom, she wouldn't tell you you're going to burn in Hell for all eternity. At least not from what I understand of a mom.

Like he said, Secular Humanist is a bit easier on religious person's psyche, but they don't try to be gentle to you... so... like the 'Good Book' says.. An Eye for an Eye. :P

Also, if she brings up that you have no moral code without religion, just bring up the Code of Hammuarbi. It is essentially the Ten Commandments, 3000 years earlier from the Babylonians. A text of codes/laws created by man. 7 out of the 10 commandments were stolen from it.

That's right. Stolen, as in no citation. Plagiarized. But they don't get in trouble for it. :P
Thank you for all of your advice.
Thanks, it really gives me a good perspective. I'm can kind of see where my mom might have been coming from especially being that she was brought up in a very religious background.
I was in a similar situation when I was young. I believe it is wrong to lie in 99% of situations. That being siad, this falls into my 1%. you are a minor child. Unfortunatly unless you get married or get knocked up your stuck at home with your parents. Because your mother sounds like she is a manipulator, making your current situation livable until you can be your own person on your own is more important then standing up for what you believe in. Going against the whole church may cause more stress, mental abuse, manipulation, and general drama then it's worth. Go to church once a week, go to camp, etc. Use it for the social aspect. It truly helped that there were people in the same situation that went to church. They didn't believe in it, but, they went because thier parents made them. I made some life long atheist friends from church. just because you go doesnt mean you have to believe in it. You could try getting active in something secular on sunday or wed so you have other obligations, avoid "god" conversations at all costs, and just try and stay generally busy with things that are not church related until you can get out from under your parents roof. Parents have an extremly hard time letting go of thier children and this may be some part of that manifesting, especially if your getting ready to graduate high school and go off to college. Just hang in there. My mother was just like yours from the sounds of it and upsetting her was not worth the drama and stress it caused. So I just sucked it up and went to church until I graduated and went off to college. Just hang in there, being underage and living in a religious household sucks
Well, I risk touching on some areas that may not be compatible between our positions, but hopefully my response will prove useful, somehow. I may also make some assessments of your parents that are inaccurate, but I'd say to at least investigate these assessments, as they may prove useful...it sounds much like my 'coming out' did (without the threat of 'camp').

1. it sounds like your dad is an atheist who's afraid to come out...this is a reach on my part, but I'd check into it....he could be your greatest ally in this. My father is agnostic (another atheist who's afraid to say so....instead he defers judgement - out of sight/earshot, out of mind) and his agreement with a number of my objections proved invaluable.
2. I'm sure your parents are trying to preserve their relationship with their parents (who sound like the real problem people in this circumstance).
3. You shouldn't have apologized and recanted....that contributes more to the 'it's only a phase' mentality your parents probably now carry about it

I'd say, pose the same questions you had for the pastor to your mom. A person's inability to defend their own belief may not make life easier for you, but most times it'll convince the person to let the subject drop. When I was 'coming of age', I had to assert my stance on a matter several times, with my mother telling me 'you don't believe that' or 'don't say something you'll regret'.

I'm also not a big fan of the 'don't burn bridges' speech...I think the most important thing in life is to be yourself, consequences be damned. I've found much more rewarding friends and family (including some I was totally unaware were non-believers) when I came out, because I could talk to them about the real me. If a parent is willing to never talk to their child because they don't believe in the same imaginary friend, then I wouldn't feel that the child is losing much. If one's love for 'god' can trump their love for their child, then the love for the child must not be very strong or of an inappropriate nature.

The previous may all be bad advice, so take it with a grain (or pound) of salt. But the next bit of advice is good advice.

Show your mom any video from the documentary 'Jesus Camp', and that should change her mind about the 'getting in touch with jesus' summer camps.

Best of luck, sister-soldier. Be true, be smart, but most of all, be joyful.

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