I saw the post about coming out to one’s parents as an atheist, and I started thinking yet again about this subject.

My parents never ask me about religion anymore. I don’t discuss it or live in pretense that I am a Christian. However, I feel that allowing them to believe I am still of that mindset is almost as bad as pretending to be a believer. I know that telling them would hurt them immensely, and that coming out as an agnostic/atheist would not improve our relationship. The only benefit of coming out would be to ease my own conscience. Is that fair? A few members (maybe two) of my family know, and nearly all my friends - I don’t hide it, I just don’t discuss it with those who would find it offensive or hurtful. There are some things I find inappropriate for discussion in certain company, or I simply do not want to deal with the resulting confrontation or conflict - this is one of those subjects.

There are many dysfunctional factors in my relationship with my parents. I don’t know what damage that renouncing faith in their god and their religion would do to the already fragile foundation of that relationship. On the other hand, in the spirit of “love me as I am”, maybe shielding that relationship, or allowing it to survive based on false assumptions of my faith is too wrong. I just cannot reach a conclusion that I am actually comfortable with.

Should I come out?

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Comment by Ruth Dickson on December 1, 2008 at 10:02pm
Whoa...that could turn into a great religious smackdown, deleted! Go for it! And stick to your guns!!
Comment by deletedsoul on December 1, 2008 at 2:49pm
My mother-in-law, who happens to be Mormon, is interested in having a religious discussion with my parents anyway, so maybe that would be a great time. :)
Comment by Ruth Dickson on December 1, 2008 at 2:39pm
Perhaps you can nudge them into a discussion by asking a relatively innocent question about one of their more marginal beliefs and see if you can get them to apply reason to their response.
Comment by deletedsoul on December 1, 2008 at 1:39pm
From my parent's view, their version of the truth is the only valid one - they are even suspicious of other denominations within Christianity. My feelings may well be more important, but that's where I struggle. Do I ease my own mind by hurting them, or do I allow them to think what they please until they ask me about my beliefs? I wouldn't have a choice other than speaking about my beliefs if they were to ask, so the question is - do I bring up the issue or allow them to do so?
Comment by Ruth Dickson on December 1, 2008 at 1:20pm
Is it better to hurt yourself by swallowing your truth? Aren't your feelings as important as theirs? Surely one of their religious beliefs is "the truth will set you free"...or does that only apply to their "truth"?
Comment by deletedsoul on December 1, 2008 at 1:07pm
Perhaps I need to be goaded, Ruth, so I don't mind. :)

I'm actually not sure what the reaction would be. I know I still have problems dealing with the guilt trips my parents like to throw my way, so I am sure that would be a factor. I'm actually not afraid that they would disown me or anything. I actually am not afraid of anything they might say or do to me. It's that I know the level of pain it would cause them to know that I have thrown away everything they tried to teach me, and that they would think I am going to spend eternity in hell. In spite of the stupid things they may have done while raising me, I don't relish the idea of hurting them, even if it will benefit in the future. I've never been vindictive or tried to hurt people with words - it's just not who I am - so thinking of doing that is very difficult for me.
Comment by Ruth Dickson on December 1, 2008 at 12:57pm
"React poorly"? What do you think they would do? Would they disown you, throw you out, mourn you as dead? Or do you think they would have a negative physical reaction to your revelation? (I'm really not trying to give you a hard time here, Deleted...just possibly goad you into doing something I think would be of benefit all around).
Comment by deletedsoul on November 30, 2008 at 5:44pm
They would most certainly react poorly to my believing anything that is at odds with their belief system.

In that belief system, to "fail god" is to fail to live up to the expectation of unconditional blind faith and servitude outlined by the religion.

Obviously that expectation is a fabrication in their own mind, but that fact makes it no less real in their minds.
Comment by Ruth Dickson on November 30, 2008 at 5:40pm
Aren't parents supposed to love their children unconditionally? How would they react if you were gay? Would they believe you if you said you had an imaginary friend? If not, why should you believe they have one? BTW, what does it mean to "fail god"? (I really don't understand what that phrase is meant to convey).
Comment by deletedsoul on November 30, 2008 at 5:21pm
As a child, I was taught strictly to rely on faith in god rather than using logic and reason. According to my parents, to require proof of my beliefs would be to fail god.

No, it doesn't make sense and it is rather sad - but that is the belief they hold.

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