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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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.
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.
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.
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.
I'm 74 years old and I don't have time to be patient, loving and understanding. I think religion is a curse and I want people to know how I feel. I don't want people in my life who judge me and I certainly don't want to listen to any more nonsense about some fiction being thanked when the doctors or nurses or janitors did all the work and received no thanks. Why be patient with nonsense? Why be loving when dominionism raises its ugly head? Why be understanding when there is only dislogic being spread?

I like my words that do not appear in the dictionary!
My relationship with my husband has greatly improved since I embraced my atheism.

As a neo-pagan I was a deeply unhappy person. My beliefs and community ultimately fostered unhealthy attitudes in me, and were unable or unwilling to provide help when I needed it, leading ultimately to a spiritual crisis that only resolved itself once I accepted my atheism. I don't bear that community any ill feelings; my experience of it was very bad, but I won't deny the happiness it brought me when I first embraced it, or the joy of some of the people I met in that community. I learned a lot, but was ultimately unfulfilled in ways that really matter to me on a daily basis; I wanted to feel a connection with others and the world around me, I wanted to have a sense of where I had come from and where I might be going, I wanted to honor the past without being a slave to it. For a time, my neo-paganism satisfied those needs, but mysticism wasn't enough.

My husband grew up with an apathist father and a reform Jewish mother. His father had nothing to do with his Irish Catholic upbringing, so my husband's only experience of faith was of a very reform, American Judaism. Debate and skepticism were encouraged along with continual education, faith in a literal being called God was not the most important thing about being Jewish in their mind, and the Bible was never interpreted or presented to be literal truth--there was a strong focus on the celebration of family traditions and history, with a nice dose of the sort of argumentative style that only that family can pull off. In all of this, it's not surprising that my inattention abundant man decided probably none of it was true and computers were cooler anyway.

So, tree-hugging neo-pagan hippie girl meets computer hacking apathist raver boy. I had been struggling with my doubts for some time, but I refused to let them go for fear of changing and not being happy with the change. I was fascinated by the man I was quickly falling hopelessly in love with and appreciated that he expected me to be able to have reasons why I said and did the things I did. I began rejecting the ideas of my neo-paganism one by one. Magic was the first to go, then the afterlife, followed by structured ritual, then daily and eventually monthly observances. One by one, they went down, all because in conversation with my husband I had begun to realize that I had no good reason to engage in any of these activities. In fact, all of the reasons I could come up with, when I honestly looked at what I was doing, were hurting me in order to protect myself from the possibility of the imagined deeper hurt of a life without religion.

Eventually my neo-paganism was so in shambles it could hardly be called a life philosophy any longer. I lost faith in the divine. I saw my participation in neo-paganism as more of an art and philosophy than a religion, but could find very little support of this view among the community. Finally, a friend asked me what I could give to our practice. I had no answer. Absolutely none. I thought about it for a long time, but couldn't even suggest an answer or a way to find it.

The death of my faith was death by a thousand cuts, but it had to be done. The barrier it put between my husband and I made me unhappy. I came to see how ridiculous and selfish I had been acting. I didn't dwell on it, I simply admitted that I had been wrong. I refused to beat myself up over it any more because there was no good reason to do that either! I'm much happier since I embraced my atheism, and that has translated into better relationships with the people I care about most.
the town i live in is very fundamentalist evangelical, baptist. the place that i work in is owned and operated by fervent born agains. i feel totally isolated. in previous workplaces i have had my life threatened for not loving jesus by and have been called pro terrorist by others. its a bit like east german redneck theocracy. i feel totally isolated and i keep my nontheism/ atheism very largely to myself. have i lost friends, yes. have i gained friends, no.
Alan, I urge you to contact the Boulder Atheists. Their next general meeting is on October 24th at the Boulder Public Library at 12:15. Check out their website here: http://www.boulderatheists.org/links.html

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