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Old 09-22-2013, 11:00 AM
 
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I've been really lucky to have a nonreligious family. Even the relatives who are believers weren't either strong about it or lived too far away to cause an issue.

In general, I don't bring it up. In school, I told one friend and got a shocked gasp in response, so I learned from that. In college, my freshman roommate asked me shortly after meeting her what religion I was (who does that?), and pretty much acted the martyr for the rest of the year when I told her I didn't have one. Ugh. I guess it was an important experience - I hadn't cared what other people believed (they were all just people to me) but it was good to understand that they may react differently to me. My parents had a few times cautioned me and my sister, as kids, to not say anything about God or whatever in the presence of a few people, like when we were befriending very religious neighbors. I didn't really understand why back then, but after college I do. It's silly that atheists feel like they have to hide their lack of belief. I'm glad I live in a pretty liberal area for the most part.

My two closest friends are quite religious. It's something that we've never discussed outright. I did realize eventually though that I shouldn't talk about evolution, as both are creationists. I've always known people can be religious, but I always thought the creationists were a minority and I probably didn't know any. Oops.
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Old 09-22-2013, 12:17 PM
 
Location: Redmond, WA
559 posts, read 720,216 times
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There are others in the family that are atheist in one form or another so it wasn't the first my Mom heard of it, but her initial reaction with me was a nightmare and I didn't intentionally tell her to make a point, it simply came up in the course of regular conversation. She called the family priest and well....you can guess the results. I told her in the end that I reconsidered because I really don't care; if she needs to go through life knowing we will be someplace for eternity, then that is fine by me. If they want to give me a Christian burial it won't affect me in the least because I will be dead. I can interact with clergy without issue, since they often do a lot of secular work. Seriously I have no agenda about it and I have no issue going to church where I can still gain community and fellowship with my neighbors, lightning isn't going to strike. Usually while everybody else is praying or conjuring up spirits I'm looking around the room "people watching".

My best friend who happens to be a choir director reacted very harshly. I find it interesting that nobody bothers to inquire what led to it or my reasoning, they just overreact or assume something is wrong with me.

So going forward, after those two experiences in particular, I decided to just never disclose it because all that matters is that I know about it.
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Old 09-22-2013, 02:25 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,198 posts, read 9,109,074 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garethe View Post
I told her in the end that I reconsidered because I really don't care; if she needs to go through life knowing we will be someplace for eternity, then that is fine by me. If they want to give me a Christian burial it won't affect me in the least because I will be dead. I can interact with clergy without issue, since they often do a lot of secular work. Seriously I have no agenda about it and I have no issue going to church where I can still gain community and fellowship with my neighbors, lightning isn't going to strike. Usually while everybody else is praying or conjuring up spirits I'm looking around the room "people watching".
That is a very interesting and pragmatic response and I am sure it was best for you, but I simply can't handle the cognitive dissonance of living a lie. I am ok listening to incidental theist ideation that I encounter in real life or on TV or online but I don't think I'd handle actually faking my participation in Christian community very well. In part, I suppose, because I've never entirely gotten over the embarrassment of ever having been taken in so thoroughly by it for so long in spite of all the pain it caused me.

Still, as I said elsewhere, I pretty much got a free pass on family issues like yours, my parents were dead by the time I "came out" for instance. Who knows what compromises I might have made to get along.

I may soon get an inkling of this. The last remaining ardent evangelical in my family, my 2nd eldest brother, lives a long way from me, we don't talk often and he seems to have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about my beliefs or lack thereof. But since we are all getting on in years (he just turned 70) we've decided to get together, the 3 of us surviving brothers for what may well be the last time. I may well get asked about my eternal soul. It'll be interesting to see how he handles it.
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Old 09-22-2013, 07:26 PM
 
350 posts, read 601,717 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will307 View Post
Most of my family knows I am and they don't seem to like it but they still love me and accept me as their family. When they found out though it was a shock to everyone but I didn't care and didn't care if they "accepted" me or not. How did your family react when you told them? If you didn't tell them how did they find out and how did your friends react? How you did you react when you found out you didn't believe anymore?
It's the other way around.

They need to be worried about

  • me accepting their superstitions and
  • my challenging them and
  • their inability to discuss their beliefs rationally and
  • me bringing religion up and
  • being afraid to talk about it and
  • the guilt and foolishness they feel realizing they may be wrong and
  • the struggle they have reconciling their life long indoctrination against objective thinking and common sense.
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Old 09-24-2013, 07:48 AM
 
Location: Sitting on a bar stool. Guinness in hand.
4,429 posts, read 5,677,491 times
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No real problems. My mother is the only one that is semi-traditional....actually I'd say that she is a very liberal catholic. She's somewhat concerned that I don't believe. But she takes the view that I will be judged for my deeds in life as opposed to swearing allegiance to a religion or deity. As for the rest of the family. My sister, brother, and SO believe in "something bigger." they just call it god out of lack of a better description. They have no real ties to any religion(s)....other than some cultural rituals/holidays that they were brought up with. My father be came a strident atheist after his tour in Vietnam. Just to add all my closest friends are either atheist or agnostics.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:33 PM
 
Location: Canada
4,699 posts, read 8,509,065 times
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My parents are both irreligious and I think my father is an Atheist, while my mother I think has a weak belief in an afterlife. Few of my extended maternal family are overtly religious and I don't know what their beliefs are, but this is a cultural trait of my society, we are Catholic Anglo-Quebecois living in the post Quiet Revolution era when Catholicism has ceased to be an important cultural institution outside of the private lives of some individuals. Canadians in general also do not speak about religion much publicly, so I've never had much conversation about religion with any of my extended family members on either side, but conversation has been freer on my paternal, Hindu side of the family. No one goes to church or temple, however, except for my cousin who is a Jehovah's witness nun living quite happily in a rural religious commune. My family knows I'm atheist, but this is hardly surprising considering my upbringing. I assume my brother is to, but it's never come up. Many cultural semi-religious traits survive in my family such as church burials, sacrificial offerings of food and prayer on Diwali, Réveillon and Rakhi. There have been very few publicly religious people who have been close to me in my life and I assume that the majority of my friends have been Atheists, but like I said, it's not a topic that comes up often in my culture so I don't really know. I do not believe in supernatural forces or beings and am an atheist in that regard, but am personally devoted to the goddess Saraswati and honour and meditate on her very regularly within the privacy of my own home. My conception of the gods is one of abstractions, of their being abstract properties of the universe, and Hindu worldviews and practices give me a better way to understand and interact with them. For me, Shiva isn't a supernatural force that can intercede, but is in fact endings, that concept and property of the world. Saraswati is the idea of art, science, and self discipline and exists because art, science, and self-discipline are real things. Together, they form a kind of a system, a consciousness, an idea, but they would not exist if life on earth ceased to exist. I don't believe in reincarnation. This is what I'm embarrassed to tell people about in my life, not that i'm an Atheist, this carries no stigma in my world as people with religious convictions have always been a small minority here, mostly Muslims.
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