After her failed attempts during our last visit to drag us to church with most of the rest of the family (FIL didn't go), my mother-in-law had me on the phone for half an hour one day during work, trying to talk me into the church life, soon after we returned from the visit. I told her that I'd be happy to continue the discussion but I couldn't do so at work!

Got a letter from her on Friday- John opened it, handed it over asking if I'd like him to shred it for me. Told him no- I said I'd continue the discussion, and so I will. Maybe- just maybe- I can find a teeny crack in her armor and expand it a bit. I did this with her favorite xtian charity already, which gave me some hope that she's actually listening. I could be wrong, but it's part of our responsibility as atheists not to remain silent.

The letter began with how my life cannot possibly have purpose and meaning without God. Well! I beg to differ. Of course it went on about how she came to accept JC etc. even with her own doubts at first. She took issue with my recent e-mail that included a Hitchens video and my comment that "faith can be a dangerous thing" (she was talking about Islam at first, and so was Hitchens, but toward the end, I believe he included a dig at xtianity.)

I just spent some time writing a reply to her, explaining how religion can get good people to do bad things, and how faith, by definition, means belief without evidence, and how it's impossible for skeptics to take things on faith alone. "We have to live the examined life, and no subject is too sacred, especially not one like religion since people base their lives on it."

Told her that I gave up going to mass and saying prayers in exchange for doing volunteer work at the local cat shelter when I was a teenager. I went on a bit and then told her that there's a book on its way that would better explain my feelings about the bible and religion.

I had ordered "50 Questions for Every Christian," which seems a lot more gentle than the books by the "horsemen." I can't scare her off with the likes of Hitchens and the rest. This will be enough! Anyway, she should get that by Thursday, and my note should arrive by Tues/Wed.

She's retired and has built her life around religion, so I have no delusions of converting her. I simply need to defend my position. My husband is cringing- he always simply shut her down, and does not want to get an "earful" from her. I told him to direct any and all angry calls to me.

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Would leaving Fundyland do anything for you?

 People who are professional advocates for atheism have a lot more financial options than I do. I should have realized that before I started a fight I could not win.

Not necessarily. The host of The Atheist Experience mentioned losing his day job at some point, and has said that there's no financial benefit to doing what he does- it's public access TV, and when he makes appearences, he pays his own way. This seems to be the case for most of the "pros," they all have "day jobs." Dawkins retired from his teaching position.

Your atheism shouldn't be the focus of who you are. Moving might be ideal, but it's easier said than done. However, it sounds worth it in your case.

With my MIL, it's entirely possible she'll play the victim card and get the family to rally around her hurt feelings. She's the one who started it, though. I never discuss religion with the family unless THEY bring it up. I'm holding on to the hope that the rest of the family is more rational.

When my MIL first heard about her son moving in with me when we were dating, she wrote my then-BF a letter that said the most vile crap about me, he read the first line, shredded the letter, emailed his siblings what she said about me, and vowed never to tell me what it was.

Until recently, I didn't know they reacted at all, but my husband says they did, and all emailed him back saying that it was horrible of her. I was greatly relieved to hear that! I thought they were quietly backing her up.

Sure, they probably secretly agree that I'm some sort of jezebel wh0re for having "lived in sin," but they've been nothing but welcoming and generous to me. One SIL says she'd love it if we came to church, but she leaves it at that.

And if we ever go out to visit on a church day, we'd go with THEM b/c there's no sales pressure. It would just be out of curiosity to see them do their thing. With MIL, there wouldn't be a church visit w/o a sales pitch from the pastor.

I don't know if I could have your patience and energy with this issue. This is one reason i don't have facebook; they (family) would swarm me.

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