I post a lot of things about religion and atheism on my facebook. Most of it I wouldn't even consider offensive! Things such as:

"Religion is like a lightbulb in a perfectly lit room; everything would be fine without it."

"Morality is doing what is right no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told no matter what is right."

Blog entries such as: http://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/2007/10/a...

Articles like this: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/28/dont-know-much-about-relig...

And my own thoughts about the kuran burning, the pope's arrival in the UK, Christopher Hitchen's current state, and my opinions about the bible as I read it.

I only post a couple things a week, which isn't much, and none which I think are that offensive. My mother posts things involving her religion almost daily, and I've never commented on her stuff, yet she's always at the ready to say something condescending when I post one of my things. On top of that, she's always asking me to read some book about christianity or watch some dvds (Answers in Genesis with Ken Ham? No thank you). She always gives credit to god whenever I accomplish something great, and she always plays christian music in the car and goes 'you will love this Bri'. The internet is my only outlet, in real life I don't say or do anything. I tolerate her crappy music, I support her in her christian drama troupe, I don't say anything when she takes my nephew and niece to church, I've even sat through some of her dvds. I've been feeling bullied by her, and the other day she posted a note on facebook composed by Ben Stein, about how christians don't like being put down because they are christians, and how there are terrorists because people apparently aren't allowed to pray in public and how kids are killing other kids because bibles aren't allowed in schools. Yeah. Anyway, I discovered that I was the ONLY person she tagged to deliberately call me out on my atheism. Let me remind you that I have not invited my mom to comment on any of the things I've posted to facebook, nor have I engaged my mom in any discussion involving this sort of thing. It's always her doing this to me. So I said enough is enough. I decided facebook is the only area in this situation where I have any control, so I deleted her from my facebook. It wasn't really a big deal to me, I was just tired of putting up with her on facebook so I deleted her.
Well shit hit the fan. She is acting like this is the worst thing I could ever do. When she sent me a message pointing out that I had been doing the same things to her, I pointed out that I actually had not because they were status updates on MY facebook and that facebook had a feature to hide status updates from certain people, which she chose to ignore. She said that we should just agree to disagree and move past it, but I asked for an apology. Her apology was, to say the least, unsatisfactory, and laden with blame on me.

"
Bri, I do apologize for making you upset and offended. DO YOU, in return, understand how I and many others were feeling by your comments
about Christianity and our religion? It is offensive and, in our
country, we should be free from this sort of thing. I don't want
excuses. I simply want it to stop. In the meantime, we should be able
to handle this like mature adults. Let's let it go. I apologize. Be at
peace."

It seems the only way she is willing to let bygones be bygones is if I stop expressing my opinions on my own facebook. I told her that isn't happening. I don't know what to do. I don't want my relationship with my mom to be strained. Any suggestions?

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Oh wow, I can really relate to this! My full story is posted here, if you're interested: http://www.atheistnexus.org/group/lacf/forum/topics/my-story-5-year...

My mom actually refuses to add me as a friend on facebook because she doesn't want to be 'exposed to the filth" (yes, she said that). I think that was an attempt to hurt my feelings, but I actually prefer it this way. The only annoying thing is that she still apparently stalks my facebook, and talks to friends/family about what she finds (example: I have my aunt, who has always been ostracized for her lack of participation in the church, listed as my mother just for fun and because she's really been there for me lately. My mom saw this, and apparently became bothered by it.) Oh, it should be noted that I have plenty of uber-Christians friends on my facebook currently - so I do refrain from saying anything ultra-offensive (in other words, I am not FILTHY! lol). The only things that have caused any trouble were a couple blog posts (I've stopped blogging there as a result) and things that some of my friends have posted. Basically, I've found other ways to 'vent' and express my views on religion (atheist nexus, e-mail debates with people that can handle it, forums, blogs etc) ...ways that have proved less troubling.

Even though this was my way of dealing, the fact remains that YOU ARE NOT DOING ANYTHING WRONG! As many have already said, it is YOUR facebook. You should be free to express yourself, for who you truly are. If anyone is offended by it, then they have this thing called a choice where they can either look away, take you off of their main status feed, or if it affects them that deeply, to go all the way and delete your sinful ass! :) I think option three is ridiculous in your case, though. If you tolerate her stuff, she should try and do the same for you.

The message your mom sent you reminds me a bit of the 'reconciliation attempts' from my own mother (our relationship - or lack thereof- is a bit more than strained by the way) which basically translated to "if you do this, THEN we can have peace" ... which is an ultimatum; not a mutual understanding.

As for what to do, I don't really know what to suggest, since you'd like to keep a good relationship with your mother. In my situation, I had to leave it all behind and move on with my life away from family (I was kind of ridiculed to a point where I felt the need to completely alienate myself in order live, love, and grow peacefully.) I certainly wouldn't recommend that for you unless you felt such an extreme were necessary ... and it doesn't seem like you do.

I hope you do find a way to make it work, though! I wish you the best of luck. Who knows - maybe after she gets used to not being exposed to your status updates on a daily basis, the urge in her to push her own views back on you will fade? I think you will always struggle with this sort of thing, but I hope it lessens as time goes on, as she learns to accept things as they are.

One last note: Christians talk and talk and talk about how they 'trust in God' to handle things. If they have so much faith that 'God will take care of it' ... then why to they push so hard? I can understand, spreading the gospel, since they are called to do so. Isn't there also a verse, though, that says something along the lines of "if they don't want to hear what you have to say, dust off your feet and move on"? (I will try to find the reference!)
A semi-famous comedian (I forget exactly who) was giving a show where he made lots of jokes about religion. Afterwards, a big guy goes up to him and says, "Hey you! I'm Christian and you offended me!" The comedian replies, "You're Christian right? So forgive me."
The hypocrisy of pushy Christians is so sad it's almost funny. Almost.
That was the great Bill Hicks. Way ahead of his time. Died tragically very young. Catch some of his stuff on Youtube, in particular when he does a gig in Baton Roughe, LA and almost gets killed.
Yep, that was him. Thanks for the reminder.
I have everything known of Bill Hicks, both official and unofficial. There's no known surfaced audio or video of that Baton Rouge show, although I do know which one you're talking about.
Brianna: We all feel your hurt. I am sure most of us have gone through something like what you are experiencing. You probably haven't read my book The God Virus, but I'll give you a short answer based on the concepts in the book. How would you treat your mother if she had a mental condition? What if she were infected with a cold virus that eventually infected her brain and made her unable to understand or speak except about the simplest things? Like what is for super or what the weather is tomorrow. Anything beyond that just baffled her. How would you relate and treat her? You would still love her. You would probably be very tolerant of her weakness of mind. It would be frustrating, but you would not blame her for getting an infection that damaged her brain. Well, when someone is infected with a god virus, that is exactly what happens. Their brain is infected and the part that controls logic, learning and reason is turned off or very restricted. Our task as non-theists is to learn to live with them without getting infected ourselves. From a rational point of view, her behavior and logic cannot be understood unless you understand it as an infection. Once you grasp that important fact, then you can start relating to her with compassion and better understanding and avoid the frustrations. I could say a lot more, but not nearly time nor space here. If this makes sense to you and you decide to use this concept I will caution you NEVER to say or imply that she is infected in any way. It will only make things worse. The god virus works to protect itself inside a person's brain. If it thinks you are attacking it, it will only get worse. As best you can, be a loving and caring daughter and simply avoid any discussion of religion. As for your facebook, just ignore all comments from her or relatives. Act like you never saw them. Put privacy restrictions on your account so only specific friends can see what you want them to see.

Thanks for posting your problem. We all wish you the best.
Darrel Ray, author if The God Virus
Darrel, I really like your perspective on this. It really makes me think. I mean, I've joked that they are mentally ill due to the frustration their actions cause me, but I never thought far enough to apply it in a more loving way, the way you have.

I think the anger I still feel toward Christianity takes control all too often, and not in a productive way. Not that it's wrong to be angry at religion, but when I see what refer to as a 'zombie-post' (fanatical Christian posts) on facebook, I get fixated on how stupid it is to give up your personality for a dead man rather than to embrace, understand and expand it ... and that sets something off inside of me, because I'll then think of all the Christians that made *me* feel like the freak for *not* wanting to submit to that. I guess on some level, I do feel bad for them, but my own pain and anger tends to be the stronger force. When you think of it as a disease of the mind, however ... and wonder what must have been difficult enough for them to deal with in order to succumb to it ... it becomes easier to have compassion.

I don't think it's always a conscious decision, but I do think that truth or blind happiness (one or the other) is going to take charge; the ones that can't handle truth as easily go for religion. i think at some point, you dedicate yourself to whichever comes to be more important to you. what's truly unfair is when youth leaders feed on the natural vulnerability (maybe not deliberately, but it's still damaging) of teens and tweens.

I have an old friend for example who I know was extremely insecure in who she was. She felt 'mediocre' in everything she tried to accomplish and always felt like even though she wasn't unattractive, that were always others outshining her (typical stuff). Her flirty boyfriend of the time didn't do much to help that. Anyway, she got heavily involved in youth group and the church ... especially when people took notice of her budding spirituality and 'passion for the Lord'. This became the thing that made her feel special. I think what she wanted most in life was that ... and now that she's found it in religion, I highly doubt she's ever going to leave it behind. After all, she found it at such a confusing time in life. It may not seem like a big deal to an adult, but in teenage world, those feelings rule. Without crutches, we are able to get over them, in a healthy manner. Religion seems to hold you captive at the place where you found it originally - but when you're too busy letting God rule, there's no time/reason to think or notice.

While her posts annoy me to no end, to think of how she got to this point and why, I can understand. It's just so sad that a more rational role model wasn't there during her time of need to give her *helpful* advice ... advice that could have shown her a way to deal with those emotions rather than give out the Jesus pill which simply suppresses them. She hasn't solved the problem, she never got the chance to see what about *her* can shine because now Jesus is number one. :-/

Oyyyy .... it's late and I'm rambling at this point! I guess all I'm trying to say is that, while we have a right to be angry, it's also important to keep in mind exactly what you've explained, that it's important to be understanding. Viewing it as a disease is certainly helpful in that, as well as thinking of how they might have ended up in such a state.
I understand what you are saying, but I think it's gone beyond that and is more of a personality thing. She continually posted her condescending comments to my facebook after I asked her to stop, then deliberately called me out on my atheism by tagging me in a post. It's one thing to ignore her comments and posts, it's another when she makes a point of making me see them by tagging me.
oh trust me, I understand what you mean! I was replying more directly to Darrel's comment, so I do apologize for getting so off topic!

I posted a comment a few posts up that was meant for your situation, specifically. :)

lol sorry again ... I tend to rant this late at night! >./body>
Lol its ok. I was actually replying to Darrell. :P
This may have already been mentioned, but have you considered making a separate facebook for family? I know people that have gone this route.

On one hand, it's silly that you'd have to - and in a way I guess it could be perceived as bending to their will which I'm sure is something you'd rather not do (it is YOUR OWN RIGHT to post your opinions, especially if theirs are being pressed on you).

On the other hand, it's not like you'd really be giving in. The family facebook could be strictly for family matters and means of communication while the other can be your safe outlet. You have your love of science and your need to vent, and then you also have your desire for communication with family - which happen to be conflicting desires at this point. Even in real life, there are times you have to hold back certain aspects of yourself for certain people (at work, or with the ultra-sensitive friend, for example) - nothing wrong with that as long as you DO have an outlet SOMEWHERE.

Think of it this way, YOU can handle the truth and have made it your goal in life to always search for it rather than hide from it - that's what matters. As annoying as their conversion attempts and blind sense of superiority may be (believe me, I know!!), the fact remains that they can't ... and that's why they rely on a delusion. That is also why they need to 'celebrate' their views ... sing about them, fellowship with other believes, spew the christian cliche phrases on facebook. I say let them, and try to be amused by it instead of angry or offended (even if that is indeed the attempt as in this case with your mother). Ignorance is bliss, they say ... but not when you try to take it away from them!

Maybe I am wrong though. Maybe it would be better for atheists to speak up, as loud/louder than the Christians, no matter what. I just can't get past the idea that a debate is pointless - especially when family is involved because it tends to do more harm than good. It's kind of a situation where you grin, bear it and then vent to your knowledge-seeking friends about how stupid they are, if/when you need to! That's what I do as of now, at least. I don't know which way would better in the long run ... because I do also understand the argument against this ...
A second facebook just for family would be too much for me. I don't even know if I would even check it that much haha. And I don't feel like I have anything to hide. I do think Atheists need to be a bit louder and let the religious know that we will not let them control our lives.

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