This past New Year's, I made a resolution to come out as an Atheist to my Fundamental Christian parents.

Easier said than done.

We've always been a somewhat non-confrontational, passive aggressive family. The "Big Conversations" often never happen, and when they do, it is usually after years of painful silence.

I am even more non-confrontational than my parents. I would rather chew broken glass in most situations than be faced with anger, tears or family drama.

As such, I've been struggling with this coming out thing for months. How can I do this without the drama, and without causing undue stress and pain to my parents? Should I go the "Dan Barker" route and send a letter? Should I have an unheard of "Big Conversation" with my parents, which in no scenario in my head ever ends well?

I decided that "easing" them into the subject in an indirect way might be the best option.

I am VERY "out" on my social networking pages and personal blog. I am somewhat vocal about my lack of belief even at work, though for obvious reasons try to avoid causing excessive offense to my coworkers and superiors.

My parents have internet access, and have mastered email, instant messaging and to some extent, online games.

Yesterday, I took a big step. I queued up my Facebook page, typed in their email addresses and clicked "Invite Friend". As we speak, an email is sitting in their respective in-boxes; a gateway to revealing my whole self to the people who gave me life, and a catalyst for dialogue in which I can possibly explain my positions and why I hold them.

When they click that link and register an account, they will see a representation of who I am. They will see that I am a liberal. They will know that I am an Atheist, a Pastafarian and a Secular Humanist. If they stick around for a few days, they will see my opinions, my thoughts and my rants about plenty of subjects, including religion. They might even see my Show-Me Skeptics and Show-Me Pride Facebook groups, which further indicates my ideas and my activism.

If they choose to refrain from clicking the link, I will be back at square one: figuring out how to have the "Big Conversation".

Now begins the waiting.

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Comment by Judy Freedman on June 25, 2010 at 5:21pm
Deleted, that is a miserable sounding situation. In your place I'd try to think of ways to drop small hints so they gradually catch on and ask questions, or back off from asking questions, rather than confront them, even gently. They just sound as if it wouldn't compute and their brains would fry. Do you live in Fundie Land? Don't they ever ask why you don't go to the House of the Imaginary Friend?
Comment by deletedsoul on June 25, 2010 at 5:15pm
My parents, especially my mother, base their entire existence around religion and the discussion of it. For instance, my mother has in the past plastered her walls with bits of paper with bible verses and cute little xtian sayings on them. Her radio constantly plays southern gospel music in the house (to help keep the demons away), and all her books are Christian themed.

My father is an ordained minister who has little Bible studies and church services on his property, and he and my mother drive many miles to see evangelists, especially those who specialize in prophecy.

I'm really vocal about Atheism in my personal life. I like reading books about it, and have some buttons on my messenger bag about it. Everything put together doesn't even touch how permeating the fundamental religion of my parents is in every aspect of their lives.

For me, being around my parents now is like dealing with an elephant in the room, even though I'm not even sure they suspect that I am an Atheist. I want to give the elephant a name, and have them know my stance rather than not saying certain things for fear they will know or be offended. I tend to avoid being around my parents right now because I'm just on edge and tense about the whole subject of religion. I don't want to berate their faith to their face or in their home, and my goal is not to be offensive - I simply want them to know, and to ask questions if they choose. I likely wouldn't share the full extent of my anti-theist activities, because that WOULD be incredibly offensive to them. Just knowing I'm an Atheist seems like a good start. :)

If they know and choose to shun me - it will hurt, to be sure. However, I think it is better that they know the real me and are able to make an informed decision (even if they don't want to) about their association with me, than to continue to have an idea of who I am that
Comment by Jaime Miller on June 23, 2010 at 9:40pm
I am with you on this 100%. I have been looking for a way to approach my parents with the same senario. I like the way you are presenting your ideas to them. Here it is...like it or lump it! I try to start conversations with my family on an variety of subjects that can segway into a religious discussion. It seems that everything in current events today is bogged down with religion in so many ways. Good luck to you!
Comment by deletedsoul on June 23, 2010 at 6:52pm
Glad to see I'm not the only one still in the religion closet. :)
Comment by Corey on June 23, 2010 at 4:35pm
Let us know how it goes. I haven't come out to my family yet (except my brother). I think my dad knows though via the book "Atheism explained" which I'm quite sure he saw in my truck one day. We haven't discussed it though. Good luck!
Comment by Ally on June 23, 2010 at 2:06pm
Good Luck, I truly hope it goes well - as smoothly as possible that is.
Bravo to you for your courage!
Comment by deletedsoul on June 23, 2010 at 1:51pm
I make a concentrated effort, especially as of late to keep my mouth firmly shut about religion at work. My boss is a serious Fundie and creating tensions there wouldn't be wise IMO. In my personal life and online, I am not nearly so quite about my belief system. I want to extend this to include more of my family including my parents. I think this will keep the stress of not disagreeing with the idiotic statements (I prayed and the air conditioner started working!!) at bay, since it will be a known fact that I don't believe in any of the woo. :)
Comment by Judy Freedman on June 23, 2010 at 12:43pm
I did it more "formally" recently after a neighbor told me I'm going to burn in hell. Some of my FB friends are vaguely religious and I usually just keep my mouth shut when they start talking delusions, so I just wanted to make sure there was no question. From the beginning I've listed religion as Opposed.
Comment by deletedsoul on June 23, 2010 at 7:56am
Yeah, I revealed the liberal thing back during the 2008 elections when my mother asked who I was voting for. My dad has pulled the "healthcare reform is socialism" thing a couple of times, at which point I got on my soapbox and started throwing out facts and asking him probing questions about why he thought that and where he heard it. I've been trying to make it obvious as well that I'm a skeptic, talking a lot about doing research before accepting claims, suggesting that they check out Joe Nickell, and explaining how psychics/mediums get their information and fool people.

It is certainly going to be an uphill battle, because my parents tend to believe whatever their favorite end-time prophecy TV/radio preachers and/or Faux News talking heads tell them. They also tend to take email forwards and World Nut Daily at face value as well, when means I can usually expect a couple tidbits of false information that I want to debunk with each visit.

Honestly, when my parents find out about the Atheist thing, the best I can really expect is a "I love you even though you are going to hell" attitude toward me. My uncle (RIP) was an Atheist, and that was pretty much the prevailing opinion about him until he died a few years ago.

We'll see what happens. :)
Comment by Dustin Scott on June 22, 2010 at 11:03pm
I come from a similar family myself.
I had 2 big moments so far. One reveling me as liberal, and the other revealing me as not a christian.
The first was when my little bro spilled that i was voting for obama, which lead to an awkward conversation with my step dad that i can generalize as him saying:

he's a socialist *witty remarks by me*, he doesn't believe in freedom, *witty remarks by me* he's the anti-christ. me: ok i think we're done here *walks away*.

i had to end the conversation there out of pure shock that he called obama the anti-christ.
Apparently their pastor told them that or something.

The other one, I can't remember how i got there, but he asked me if I thought the bible was the word of god. I was like haha no, it's clearly written by humans.
which i guess revealed me as agnostic maybe?
i still havn't drop the atheist bomb, but i'm not willing to burn bridges i still need haha, so it may be another year or two before i drop that one.
Knowing my step dad, it may get dragged out of me sooner than that though. My family brings out the worst side of me haha.
I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be a surprise when i tell them, but they'll probably act like it was anyways. I am in a atheist group on my facebook page though.

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