I am new here also. My coming out party has taken over 5 hellish years. I came from a very right-wing ultra religious evangelical background. And all I can say is getting out has been pure hell in every sense of the word. It all started when my mother said to me "don't you think (her other son) is going to hell for the type of music he listens to." I could not hold it in any longer and replied "NO, I do not think anyone goes to hell for any reason because there is no hell." At that point you could hear a pin drop for about 7 seconds, and then all of them (parents and siblings) surrounded me and verbally attacked me for about 30 minutes. It was so very important to them that I believe in hell. I left that day knowing I had made several life long enemies and things would never be the same again. And I was dead right. These verbal attacks and challenges to my non-belief kept on coming for the next 5 years. There would be a slight let-up at times but I always knew it was still there simmering on their back burners waiting for the next opportunity to nail me. No visit or even phone call ever went without at least some religious innuendo. My fanatic mother even threatened to legally take my kids from me so they could be raised in a Christian home. Yeah, top that. I finally had to excommunicate myself from all of them and even though I know it was the right thing to do, I still feel guilty about having to do it. I just could not suffer from them any longer. I tried for 5 long years and it only brought me more of the same from them. It's in their code. They have to try and save me no matter how much mental and emotional abuse it takes. It is probably the worst coming out EVER. No one stood up for me and they had sufficient numbers to do their worst damage. The lies and gossip among them about me were horrendous and still hurt to this day. I wish now I had stayed in the closet, at least part of me does. The other part is damned proud and glad to be shed of these people and the cross they bear. It's bittersweet.
Glad to see you made out of hell (the hell your family put you through). It always amazes me how intolerant the religious are of people who are different.
Glad to hear the doctors took care of your cancer. What would we do without science?
The turning point for me was when my father died after a senseless work related accident. It was then that I decided that if there was a god, it's not one I want to worship. After several years of reading...Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, and listening to my two favorite podcasts...Dogme Free America and Reasonable Doubts, I was able to put it all behind me.
Every time I'm faced with a Jehovah's Withness or a Born Again, I gear up for a fight. In the end, I just move on and ignore them. It's not worth the time to argue. Life is too precious to waste in dispute. I feel sorry for these people who look forward to the day they go to heaven instead of enjoying life.
I'm new here as well. My story of coming out as an Atheist wasn't difficult, as it was for some of you who have replied here. My loved ones are not religious, though they do believe in a higher power and afterlife. They're all culturally Christian and go to Church once a year, or so. Nevertheless, I've always been taught that there was a God and that if you pray he may solve your problems. I always found the whole concept of God to be strange, but I just couldn't accept that my parents would lie to me. I feel that this has had a very negative impact on my personal development. I became an Agnostic as a teenager and the more I got into understanding the reality of Biology, Physical Anthropology (Evolution) and Astrophysics, the more I distanced myself from Christianity. The step from being an Agnostic to an Atheist was an odd experience. The cultural baggage of Christianity is so deeply ingrained that even though I always knew that Bible was utter bullshit, I still persisted to identify with other Christians for a long time. Rejecting Christianity altogether made me feel like a cultural traitor for a little while. Again, it wasn't as big of a deal for me, because my family has never been religious, but even in my case, when they first heard me say that I'm an Atheist and that there is no God, I think they felt offended by it.
I'm actually ashamed that I didn't become an open Atheist even as a child, right after discovering that Santa Claus wasn't real. Ironically my father was an Atheist as a teenager but became a believer in a higher power by the time I was growing up.