Becoming more vocal about my atheism has had an affect on many of my relationships. 

What I'm beginning to see is how the devoutly religious people categorize the non believers.  The box they seem to try to put us in is "evil" or that we are now the "devil."

This is such an ignorant approach but it requires "us" to be even more patient with the religious.  To me, patience, love, and understanding is the only way we can begin to show them how we can live good and loving lives without religion. 

A person doesn't need to believe in a god or gods to have love in their lives. 

Have you gained or lost friends and/or relationships because of your atheism? 

I would say, in raw numbers of relationships, that I've lost more than I've gained.  But the quality of my relationships has improved. 

What about you? 

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Replies to This Discussion

I have definitely lost friends over my atheism. It's worse when you move often, because you have to face rejection all over again in a new town. After we moved to this town in August 2009, I made what I thought were some very open-minded friends, but after I began telling people (sometime in October 2009) that I was an atheist and was raising my daughter that way...well...people just stopped interacting with me. The family of my daughter's best friend (she'd never had a best friend until we moved here) stopped calling and coming over almost immediately. When I'd run into some of my "friends" in the grocery store, they'd either look the other way or right through me.

I felt a little better a couple of days ago when someone actually spoke to me for the first time in ages. She was a lady that I knew from the elementary school here. We were never really very close (so she might not even know about my atheism), but it was nice to have someone smile at me and treat me like a functional member of the community.

Probably the worst loss recently was an animist friend of mine. We'd been friends for about six years, and we just clicked on so many levels, but when we first met, I was more tolerant of religions than I am now. I guess I've changed quite a bit. Anyway, I told him recently that I would gladly erase all religions from the world if it were within my power, and I lost him. Immediately. Probably forever. We used to be lovers and hiking partners, and now I don't even know if he's okay. It really hurts.
My family, though mostly Christian, except me and my atheism with open arms and even open minds. Some friends and my wife's family... not so much. The exact reason why my wife's hard-core, "If your not Catholic then you are doomed to a hell so horrible it should scare you into becoming Catholic (modern day version of the Spanish Inquisition I suppose), don't know I'm an Atheist. I also work with a lot of children (cadets) as the leader of a military-like cadet program who's parents are way right wing super-Christians. I'm afraid if they found out I was an Atheist they would pull their kids out of the program.
That's pretty sad isn't it Brent? So, in effect, you feel discriminated against because of your belief or "nonbelief." I am afraid that our famous founding father Thomas Jefferson was actually more brave than many of us. Seems like it was he who fought so hard for the wording of the separation of Church and State. After learning some about 15th Century Britain (The Tudors and Bloody Mary) and how so many people were tortured and brutalized by the state for their religions differences, it was more clear as to why our founders knew it was important to separate the two.

Anyway, I do sympathize with your predicament. I live in a small community of right wing christians and I don't go around with a bullhorn letting them know I'm an atheist. But, little by little, I'm chipping away. And, it some small way, being able to tear down small bits of the religious dogma that haunts our world makes me feel that I'm doing something real for humanity !!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it... ha ha !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I would say that since coming out of the "atheist closet" some of my relationships have changed. Especially with my family, my mom is always sure to bring up God around me and tries to pick fights with me about religion, but she hasn't disowned me or anything. My dad doesn't really seem to care. My wife and I still get along great, but sometimes she gets mad at me for arguing with my mom. My neighbor is a hardcore Pentecostal, but surprisingly we get along fine. We even have some fairly good debates. I would have to say that my relationships have been enriched by my coming out as an atheist because I don't feel like I have to hide my thoughts anymore.
when i was in Jr high school(7th grade) a boy dumped me cuz i wasn't christian. i was ganna rock his world and i had him very hot and bothered lol...but he still dumped me...said i would make him look bad..tarnish his reputation. after that i only dated bad boys and stayed away from catholic jocks.....years later i married an atheist jock instead..been married to him 5 years and we have a daughter and i am pregnant as hell with his son until September. we are going to raise our kids to think for themselves.
Thoughtful reply, thank you!

We recently had one of our favorite couples over for the weekend. Generally, my wife and I avoid conversations with friends that touch both religion and politics. Well, we all know that these two subjects can result in disaster. In this case, it so happened on the back patio, smokin' a cigar, that the female friend (who is a love by the way) wanted to get into her Christian faith. Very gently, I listened to her discuss some of her rationale. Then, I let her know that I was a nonbeliever. She was stunned but wanted to hear more about how and why I got to this point. So, having done so much reading on the subject, it is now pretty easy for me to discuss with "supers."

Some favorites:
1. To paraphrase Sam Harris: "You know, the main difference between you and me is that I just believe in one less God than you do." "Do you suppose that if you had been raised in Iraq, that you'd be a Muslim right now?"

2. We know that the universe is vast and we are but just a tiny tiny spec in a sea of billions of planets in our galaxy alone. And, that our galaxy is but a tiny spec in a sea of billions or perhaps trillions of other galaxies. Now, this "god" that you pray to... do you really think that if it exists that it wants to be prayed to and/or worshipped by you?" If so, why would this all powerful thing need your worshipping?

3. Oh, you say that you don't know why we are here? And, religion gives you comfort. Ok, I can buy that. But, just because you don't know "why or how" something exists, does it mean that it is ok to make up a story about it?

4. As for the bible... one of my favorites is to say "why should we think the words of a bunch of ignorant babylonian bullshit artists 2000 years ago is the word of of a god?" If this was the word of god, doesn't it stand to reason that it would have told us that the world was round? Shouldn't it have told us that the earth wasn't the center of the universe? No? Well, hmmm... might that be because it was written by mere mortals trying to control the masses?

5. Finally, of course, when they say that they believe because it is a comfort to them... I just respond that this is a good thing perhaps. That we are all just trying to figure out how to get through this life. But, it is enough of a miracle for me just to know that I am here and that I can sit here and contemplate my own existence (Carl Sagan). I don't need to make up a story as to why. Nor do I need to worship anything to feel good about my life and the world around me.

At the end of our conversation, my female friend said something that was most enlightening. She said she had never actually had a conversation with anyone who was an atheist and that she could understand everything I said, and that she actually enjoyed having the conversation. At that point, I said that if she wanted some great books to read on the subject that I could provide them. But, she said "no, I really don't want to read those materials because... " and, I finished the sentence for her "because your religion says that it might shake your faith?" Or, "because your religion doesn't want you to read the words of the devil?" Oops, that was exactly it... and, believe it or not, she saw the trap that she was in. It was truly a neat moment. She laughed, and we all finished our drinks and went to bed.

It was a great night and one of the best interactions I've had lately in which I was able to discuss religion with a quite firm believer and come away with us both feeling good about having had the talk. As you know, this can be difficult to do...

Sorry fo the long reply... this was a good weekend. Hope you had a good one too !!!!
Wow - wish my christian friends were that open to this kind of discussion! Most would take comments like that as a hostile throw-down, sadly. Sounds like your friend might someday be open to some serious "soul-searching" about some of her ingrained beliefs.
Other than family, I shy away from relationships with people who can't deal with reality - so none of my relationships have really changed!
Fortunately for me I have not really lost any relationships, although it has strained some of my family relationships, but not to the point of breaking. When I was still religious I had many non-theist and skeptic friends and it is through listening to them and debating with them that I made my transition from a moderate believer to atheism. My family naturally blames them for my atheism. But, the truth was I had been a skeptic for many years and my doubt had been increasing. They just gave me the support and the basis from which I could honestly declare my atheism rather than cowering in the shadows continuing to pretend that I was a believer.
I have only really become an "non-theist" in the last year or two. My brother died and it was at that point that I realized I really didn't think he "went on", which was kind of a hard thing to accept, yet I didn't believe there was really a heaven or a hell. I am kind of ashamed to admit that I am still "in the closet" for the most part. Although I am pretty honest and blunt about everything else in my life, when it comes to this aspect, I still just say that I don't believe in organized religion, that I am "completely non-religious", and that I am a "heathen". I often say that I am looking forward to going to hell when I die. I don't really believe in hell, so I say it kind of jokingly. I say I'd rather reign in hell than serve in heaven -which ruffles some feathers, as you can imagine. :) Most people don't really grasp what I am getting at - they just think I mean I don't go to church. People see what they want and I don't really correct them, since I live in Utah and it can literally affect my job (as sad and outright illegal as that is), as well as cause most of the people I am acquainted with to cut me off. It is lonely living in this state and I rarely feel that I can be 100% myself, which kills me. As much as I'd like to "come out of the closet", so to speak, I know at this point it is not the wisest choice. I'd like to move to a bigger city (preferably in another state!) in hopes of finally being able to be more myself. As far as my family goes, it won't matter where I live, obviously. They will always treat me different now that I am not mormon anymore, which is just fine with me because I personally have a problem with almost everything the mormon church stands for. All I tell my family is that I don't believe in "the church" and that I am non-religious. I'm pretty sure they still think I am generally christian. In their mind, losing that is the last straw, and after that they pretty much shun you completely.
Hi Jenni,

We live in Texas which is pretty much the "bible belt" and we find it difficult to espouse our views in many situations.

But, at my age (60) I'll be darned if I'm gonna stay in the closet any longer. These days I just tell it like it is and the folks who don't like it can lump it. I figure it's my small way of making the world a better place to live. The more people who hear the truth as we realists see it, the more they might think it is ok to be like us in the future if the light ever goes on for them.

So, I let more people know now than ever what my beliefs are. (or non beliefs, if you will)

It certainly let's me feel better every day when I look in the mirror and that feels good !!

Have a good one.
I became enlightened about the fallacy of religion when I was fifteen -- 16 years ago. My fiance's enlightenment was around 9 or 10 years old (27+ years ago for him). The majority of my family believe in some denomination of religion. However, a conversation we had with my stepmom last year made it clear that they think our atheism is a fad. Apparently, we are only atheists because no one else is. In other words, if atheism became the thing to do, we would change our minds to something not the norm or some nonsense like that.

Believe me, that comment made me furious. They obviously think they know us, but are deluded in that respect.


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