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Old 03-26-2014, 09:17 AM
 
Location: South Carolina
3,534 posts, read 2,452,165 times
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Yesterday I spoke with my sister who is unaware that I'm now an unbeliever. Her FIL passed away and she was asking me to pray for the family. I didn't have a clue how to respond except to say "uh-huh" or "ok" but I have yet to find the right words when it comes to something like this. I just said I was really sorry and that I would send a donation. I know people think I'm a coward for not just being honest but there are so many things involved and it just wouldn't be well received. So I keep it to myself.

I met a new friend over the weekend and I made the mistake of saying I didn't believe in god.....wow what a chilly reception. Here in the bible belt people equate non-belief with the devil so I'm sure I've been red-flagged. Then there was a side discussion that I caught parts of about god and I made another mistake of asking if the god-conversation was over with and it made my other friend cry. She never would say what she was upset about but I know that was it. So these are some of the reasons I don't talk about it or mention it. I get so sick of hearing about "god", praise "god", pray for me, I'll pray for you, on and on and on.....you get the picture. Makes me want to shout "I'm an atheist!!!!" from the rooftops sometimes but I'd probably be picked off the roof by these gun-toting idiots around here.

What the heck do you do? Any suggestions about what to say or do?
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:21 AM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
3,881 posts, read 7,312,942 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northsouth View Post
Yesterday I spoke with my sister who is unaware that I'm now an unbeliever. Her FIL passed away and she was asking me to pray for the family. I didn't have a clue how to respond except to say "uh-huh" or "ok" but I have yet to find the right words when it comes to something like this. I just said I was really sorry and that I would send a donation. I know people think I'm a coward for not just being honest but there are so many things involved and it just wouldn't be well received. So I keep it to myself.

I met a new friend over the weekend and I made the mistake of saying I didn't believe in god.....wow what a chilly reception. Here in the bible belt people equate non-belief with the devil so I'm sure I've been red-flagged. Then there was a side discussion that I caught parts of about god and I made another mistake of asking if the god-conversation was over with and it made my other friend cry. She never would say what she was upset about but I know that was it. So these are some of the reasons I don't talk about it or mention it. I get so sick of hearing about "god", praise "god", pray for me, I'll pray for you, on and on and on.....you get the picture. Makes me want to shout "I'm an atheist!!!!" from the rooftops sometimes but I'd probably be picked off the roof by these gun-toting idiots around here.

What the heck do you do? Any suggestions about what to say or do?
Regarding people asking for prayers, I either do not respond or I just say something like they are in my thoughts or I hope they find solace...whatever.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:39 AM
 
Location: South Carolina
3,534 posts, read 2,452,165 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Crabcakes View Post
Regarding people asking for prayers, I either do not respond or I just say something like they are in my thoughts or I hope they find solace...whatever.
Since people are asking you for prayers are you an open atheist or hiding it? Just wondering.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:42 AM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
3,881 posts, read 7,312,942 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northsouth View Post
Since people are asking you for prayers are you an open atheist or hiding it? Just wondering.
Yes, I am open but I'm not very vocal about it so not everyone knows. I am a member os various online groups so people don't always know and often times send out group messages to people. So I don't get messages to only me on this.

So I can keep it vague. But even if I did, I'd reiterate the 'you are in my thoughts' and send well wishes while avoiding an mention of prayers.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:43 AM
 
Location: Type 0.7 Kardashev
10,577 posts, read 7,286,572 times
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Two comments:

First, I think it is always useful to live openly as an atheist. That does not mean I think it has to be broadcast; rather, I think it should not be hidden. Nothing destroys the caricatures and myths of what some non-atheists hold to be atheism better than living a life that is as normal and indistinguishable as everyone else's, save for the whole God thing. Live well and happily, and show that such is not incompatible with being an atheist.

Second, while saying the former I also understand that some people find themselves in situations where this is much more difficult and complicating than for others, such as myself. I respect that.

I would simply suggest being quietly respectful without compromising yourself and your beliefs. No one has the right to expect you to pretend to be other than you are. Only you can ultimately decide whether a relationship with someone demanding unacceptable things from you is worse than risking not having a relationship with that person.

Good luck to you!
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:55 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,094,403 times
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I don't live in the Bible Belt and so don't encounter this but once in a blue moon. Mostly it has to do with one of my brothers who remains a staunch fundamentalist, but he lives several states away and I don't see him often in person. Since I haven't been attending church in over twenty years, and since he's aware of a couple things in my lifestyle and political leanings that are clearly not something a fundamentalist would do, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that I am, at the very least, a backslider, if not an out and out unbeliever. Yet he chooses not to delve into it. The most he ever said to me is that he doesn't understand why I didn't remain in the faith, nor how I cope with life without it, but he doesn't really want to know unless I really for some reason want to discuss it. This makes sense; he's 72 years old and doesn't want his slumber disturbed. He knows he can't handle it.

This is an unusual level of self-awareness in a fundamentalist but he is a landlord in an urban area, mostly Section 8 housing, and he's very "street". He's seen a lot more and dealt with a lot more in Real Life(tm) than most fundamentalists. Being a member of an inner city church helps too. Also I understand he has a friend who is an atheist and they still have an amicable relationship, so his world does not fly apart at the concept. He gets along with that friend the same way I gather, via a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

I guess I have it pretty cushy compared to some others here. My parents died before I "came out" and they were unusually good in the Minding Your Own Business department anyway, plus I know they would never reject me over anything like that. My other fundamentalist brother died several years ago and the other living brother hasn't seen the inside of a church in decades either, although he avoids thinking too much about his metaphysics and still has religious plaques on the walls of his dwelling.

If I found myself in a social group (family, work, community) that was very overtly and constantly religiously expressive, I would keep a low profile and try to find like-minded souls. My daughter lives in North Carolina and has had to do that ... it's been slow going but she has cobbled together good relationships over time. She has just chosen not to take the Bible thumpers seriously. It helps, I guess, that she was an ER nurse for a long time and has learned how to play to their illusions. Nothing like dealing with people in crisis situations all the time to get sense of such things, as well as to view them with compassion in spite of their sometimes impertinent and intrusive behaviors.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:55 AM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
6,869 posts, read 3,793,329 times
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^^^^

Great advice Unsettomati.
I pretty much echo everything you said there.

Privately I'd say I'm a little more hard-hearted about it. My honest feeling is that if people know you well, know you are a good person and live a good life, and then suddenly change their perspective about you for the simple fact that you are an atheist, then that's their problem, not yours. It's a form of prejudice. no way of getting around that. So frankly if they are going to judge you for it, it makes me think less of them, not the other way around. Friends like that aren't worth having.
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Old 03-26-2014, 11:06 AM
 
Location: South Carolina
3,534 posts, read 2,452,165 times
Reputation: 24038
Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Crabcakes View Post
Yes, I am open but I'm not very vocal about it so not everyone knows. I am a member os various online groups so people don't always know and often times send out group messages to people. So I don't get messages to only me on this.

So I can keep it vague. But even if I did, I'd reiterate the 'you are in my thoughts' and send well wishes while avoiding an mention of prayers.
Oh ok, I see what you mean thanks.
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Old 03-26-2014, 11:18 AM
 
Location: South Carolina
3,534 posts, read 2,452,165 times
Reputation: 24038
Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
I don't live in the Bible Belt and so don't encounter this but once in a blue moon. Mostly it has to do with one of my brothers who remains a staunch fundamentalist, but he lives several states away and I don't see him often in person. Since I haven't been attending church in over twenty years, and since he's aware of a couple things in my lifestyle and political leanings that are clearly not something a fundamentalist would do, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that I am, at the very least, a backslider, if not an out and out unbeliever. Yet he chooses not to delve into it. The most he ever said to me is that he doesn't understand why I didn't remain in the faith, nor how I cope with life without it, but he doesn't really want to know unless I really for some reason want to discuss it. This makes sense; he's 72 years old and doesn't want his slumber disturbed. He knows he can't handle it.

This is an unusual level of self-awareness in a fundamentalist but he is a landlord in an urban area, mostly Section 8 housing, and he's very "street". He's seen a lot more and dealt with a lot more in Real Life(tm) than most fundamentalists. Being a member of an inner city church helps too. Also I understand he has a friend who is an atheist and they still have an amicable relationship, so his world does not fly apart at the concept. He gets along with that friend the same way I gather, via a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

I guess I have it pretty cushy compared to some others here. My parents died before I "came out" and they were unusually good in the Minding Your Own Business department anyway, plus I know they would never reject me over anything like that. My other fundamentalist brother died several years ago and the other living brother hasn't seen the inside of a church in decades either, although he avoids thinking too much about his metaphysics and still has religious plaques on the walls of his dwelling.

If I found myself in a social group (family, work, community) that was very overtly and constantly religiously expressive, I would keep a low profile and try to find like-minded souls. My daughter lives in North Carolina and has had to do that ... it's been slow going but she has cobbled together good relationships over time. She has just chosen not to take the Bible thumpers seriously. It helps, I guess, that she was an ER nurse for a long time and has learned how to play to their illusions. Nothing like dealing with people in crisis situations all the time to get sense of such things, as well as to view them with compassion in spite of their sometimes impertinent and intrusive behaviors.
Nice post, you hit the nail on the head with the above bolded "flying apart" example, that's exactly what would happen with some of my family members, most all of my friends know so I'm not totally in the closet. In my case I'm not afraid to announce it or ashamed of it or whatever, it's a simple protection reflex for myself but mostly for loved ones who would completely flip out if they knew. I don't want to cause anyone distress especially my Mother, who would worry terribly about me going to hell if she knew. I mean, I know it's not the end of the world but it can be quite a dilemma when you're surrounded by fundamentalists and churches.
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Old 03-26-2014, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,094,403 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northsouth View Post
I don't want to cause anyone distress especially my Mother, who would worry terribly about me going to hell if she knew.
Yeah, even with my brother, I won't push it as I don't see any point in upsetting him. His wife is even worse; she was threatened and confused last time I visited because I have facial hair that I didn't used to have (quite conservative and well groomed too). It was like traveling back to the 1960's and 1970's when Christians still debated the holiness of such things.

Some fundamentalists live on the thin edge of panic; they can't tolerate anything that challenges their highly structured understanding of reality.
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