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Community => Life As An Atheist => Topic started by: Tank on June 15, 2010, 06:19:08 PM

Title: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Tank on June 15, 2010, 06:19:08 PM
WARNING! This may not work!

Right, now the disclaimer is out of the way and expectation levels set I'll proceed. I have many years experience in sales, buying, product management and project management. To succeed in these areas one has to know how to negotiate. Telling your family or friends you are an atheist is a type of negotiation in that you want them to accept your world view as your world view.

The principles behind negotiation are to bring the other person to a point where they feel changing their mind, or accepting your view, is the right thing to do. I'll make no bones about it this is about hard nosed self interest. The most important negotiation tool is emotion followed by logic. Nobody ever agrees with an enemy, they may acquiesce but they will not agree. You'll never bully your family or friend into really agreeing with your world view, they'll just stop arguing. What we want is true agreement.

So in no particular order these are the things you need to consider.

Choose one person. Rome wasn't built in a day, don't expect to come out quickly to everybody. Who is the person least likely to freak out or possibly even support your position? You absolutely must not blurt out your new found atheism in front of an audience potentially hostile to your world view. Select one person, preferably the one who you are best friends with or you know for a fact loves you e.g. your Mum.

Do this at a time and place of your choosing. Choose your battle ground. Make sure you will have the full attention of the person you are going to disclose to and enough time to have a discussion, and also for the other person to cool down and assimilate what you have told them. Sometimes a car journey is a good place to do this, or a long dog walk or a fishing trip. Somewhere where the other person can't immediately call on reinforcements (You wait while I get your Father!) or shut down the conversation. You'll need at least a couple of hours of quality time to get this done.

Do not challenge their world view. This is critical, as you wish them to accept your world view, that you have to accept their world view in return. If you set your world view up as somehow superior to theirs you're done for. Sides will be taken and war will break out. Saying things like 'While I respect you're world view I don't feel comfortable with it, I need to find my own way.' is the way to go. This does not put the other party in the position of having to fight for their view. It also leaves the door open 'I need to find my own way.' This is giving them a place where they can accept your current position as it could well not be your final position. A number of religious figures have spent time on their own finding their own way. I seem to recall Jesus is supposed to have spent 40 days and 40 nights doing exactly this. So you're in good company. Do not take the line 'I'm an ATHEIST FU!'

Ask for help. There is nothing less hostile than asking for help, it is the ultimate submission and puts you in a very non-threatening light. The person you ask will immediately feel sympathy and worry and will wish to help you. Don't say you want help with your atheism (that's not up for negotiation). Ask the person if they love you. This will set off huge alarm bells and the person will immediately jump to the worst possible scenario from their perspective e.g. you're gay or pregnant (from a Fathers perspective  :) ). This usually sets their expectation level very low so if you then go onto something less terrible they will immediately feel relief. If atheism is their worst fear then you have lost nothing doing this. Tell them you need help telling the rest of your family/friends about your world view. Don't make atheism the issue, that's not negotiable, what you're looking for here is a comrade and ally in telling people about your new world view, whether they agree with that world view or not. Tell the person you are anxious about telling the others and you need their help.

Leave some slack in your argument. This is difficult but again crucial to successful negotiation, nobody likes to feel cornered or that they have somehow lost. Leave the other person some neutral place to stand. Say things like 'I'm not set on this but this is how I feel I must go on for the time being.' This allows the other person to stand near your position. The critical thing is that you've got the subject out into the open in a non-aggressive and non-adversarial manner.

You have a spokesperson. Once you have one person onside then get them to do the work with the others. Let them become your spokesperson, your defender. If your Dad is likely to explode get your Mum on side. She'll know how to deal with him and the reverse if it's your Dad you've 'come out' to.

I've never had to do this myself but years of professional negotiation have helped me hone my skills in this area of human interaction so I hope some of the above is of help.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: The Black Jester on June 16, 2010, 06:30:14 PM
Well considered and helpful advice, thanks Tank!
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: pinkocommie on June 16, 2010, 07:41:49 PM
I sure don't envy people who have to go through this.  :(
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Laser Sailor on July 27, 2010, 09:34:31 PM
Man, I wish I came across this advise a few months ago. . . My own "coming out"went poorly.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Tank on July 28, 2010, 07:48:54 AM
Quote from: "Laser Sailor"
Man, I wish I came across this advise a few months ago. . . My own "coming out"went poorly.
Please feel free to tell your story here, one can learn a lot from badly handled situations, if only how not to do it. Annoyed to hear it did not go well.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Laser Sailor on August 02, 2010, 05:20:31 AM
I didn't have a plan in mind when it all came out. I stopped going to church, first with excuses, then without excuse. When questioned about my faith I denied misgivings and faked having faith. A person can only keep a lie going for so long eventually the truth has to come out. So I told my family flat out I do not believe in god and have no interest in going to church. My mother still insists that I am in fact a believer saying thigs like "You know the truth." and "We raised you to know and believe, you'll come back when you're done with this phase."  I tried to explain my thoughts with this note, which I pasted up on my facebook. It didn't help.

Quote
I don't believe that any of the major religions have all the answers, and I detest the dogmatic view of the world that they tend perpetuate. I was born into a strongly christian family. I was a strong believer for most of my life. About two years ago I took a class called "The way of the master" it was a course on evangelism and apologetics. The main point of the course was to circumvent a person's intellect and go after their conscience (emotions) in order to convert. This sparked me to dig into evangelism and apologetics, I couldn't find one reasonable, logical argument for christianity. Most of the arguments are based in circular logic or mere wordplay. This was also the time I was taking a lot of GE classes, and science classes. The more I learned about the scientific method the more I began to agree with it. The more I studied subjects like anthropology, geology, biology, and astronomy I found that they were all interconnected and theories and proofs in one dicipline supported theories and proofs in another. The theory of how the solar system was formed, an astronomical theory balances perfectly with proven geological forces at work in the earth today. Thus I came to the conclusion that the creation story was no more than myth. Then I took biology and anthorpology, learning the theories of evolution, and framing them with the proven facts of biology I came to the conclusion that the theory of evolution was pretty solid.

I mean it just makes more sense. Which sounds more reasonable?

That the processes we can observe and measure in the Earth and it's ecosystems today have always existed and are ongoing. They have been slowly changing the Earth and it's ecosystems for a very long time, and will continue to do so in the future.

Or

God made it all with his magic?

So I disregarded the Bible as fact and began to view it in it's cultural and historical context.
Many things in the bible strike me as wrong. Like stoning women to death for not being a virgin on her wedding day (Deut 22:21) yet there is not such punishment for a male. Or god ordering the jews to commit genocide (Deut 7:16-24).
These are some of the many problems I have with the bible. I can present more.
So I'm not a christian anymore. Has it changed me? Not really. I'm still the same guy I was before. Most of my morals are intact. In fact I'd say my moral reasoning has improved. I no longer oppress people because they are simply different (gays). In fact I have become a straight, gay rights activist. I believe the fight for equality is far more important than some petty religious rules. Yet I detest abortion, one shouldn't get to kill a baby because it's inconvenent. If there's a valid medical reason maybe, but not because someone acted dumb. Those are two hot topics right now, if you want my opinion on something else just ask.

Whew. I've never actually wrote all that down before. And getting it all out is somewhat therapeutic.

I know who I am.


My suggestion to anyone who wishes to "come out" is simply have a game plan, do not try to wing it. Also it's going to come out on it's own eventually, it'd wise for you to choose the place and time.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Obii on August 02, 2010, 08:22:30 PM
It's really sad to me to see someone have to go through a deconversion process such as you. How can parents do that to their kids? They say they raised you to believe this certain thing, that you're going through a phase, that you "know the truth"... it makes my blood boil. My condolences, and best wishes in the future. Keep moving on the path towards REAL truth, and you will end up happy in the end.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Martin TK on August 02, 2010, 08:35:43 PM
Quote from: "Laser Sailor"
I didn't have a plan in mind when it all came out. I stopped going to church, first with excuses, then without excuse. When questioned about my faith I denied misgivings and faked having faith. A person can only keep a lie going for so long eventually the truth has to come out. So I told my family flat out I do not believe in god and have no interest in going to church. My mother still insists that I am in fact a believer saying thigs like "You know the truth." and "We raised you to know and believe, you'll come back when you're done with this phase."  I tried to explain my thoughts with this note, which I pasted up on my facebook. It didn't help.

Quote
I don't believe that any of the major religions have all the answers, and I detest the dogmatic view of the world that they tend perpetuate. I was born into a strongly christian family. I was a strong believer for most of my life. About two years ago I took a class called "The way of the master" it was a course on evangelism and apologetics. The main point of the course was to circumvent a person's intellect and go after their conscience (emotions) in order to convert. This sparked me to dig into evangelism and apologetics, I couldn't find one reasonable, logical argument for christianity. Most of the arguments are based in circular logic or mere wordplay. This was also the time I was taking a lot of GE classes, and science classes. The more I learned about the scientific method the more I began to agree with it. The more I studied subjects like anthropology, geology, biology, and astronomy I found that they were all interconnected and theories and proofs in one dicipline supported theories and proofs in another. The theory of how the solar system was formed, an astronomical theory balances perfectly with proven geological forces at work in the earth today. Thus I came to the conclusion that the creation story was no more than myth. Then I took biology and anthorpology, learning the theories of evolution, and framing them with the proven facts of biology I came to the conclusion that the theory of evolution was pretty solid.

I mean it just makes more sense. Which sounds more reasonable?

That the processes we can observe and measure in the Earth and it's ecosystems today have always existed and are ongoing. They have been slowly changing the Earth and it's ecosystems for a very long time, and will continue to do so in the future.

Or

God made it all with his magic?

So I disregarded the Bible as fact and began to view it in it's cultural and historical context.
Many things in the bible strike me as wrong. Like stoning women to death for not being a virgin on her wedding day (Deut 22:21) yet there is not such punishment for a male. Or god ordering the jews to commit genocide (Deut 7:16-24).
These are some of the many problems I have with the bible. I can present more.
So I'm not a christian anymore. Has it changed me? Not really. I'm still the same guy I was before. Most of my morals are intact. In fact I'd say my moral reasoning has improved. I no longer oppress people because they are simply different (gays). In fact I have become a straight, gay rights activist. I believe the fight for equality is far more important than some petty religious rules. Yet I detest abortion, one shouldn't get to kill a baby because it's inconvenent. If there's a valid medical reason maybe, but not because someone acted dumb. Those are two hot topics right now, if you want my opinion on something else just ask.

Whew. I've never actually wrote all that down before. And getting it all out is somewhat therapeutic.

I know who I am.


My suggestion to anyone who wishes to "come out" is simply have a game plan, do not try to wing it. Also it's going to come out on it's own eventually, it'd wise for you to choose the place and time.

Well said, and very similar to my own deconversion story.  I think the best advice I could give is don't allow the pressure to "go back to living the lie" get the best of you.  I know the allure to just lie to everyone for the sake of peace is very attractive, but for your own mental health, it isn't worth it.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: lookitsaustin on January 11, 2011, 04:23:50 AM
My close family knows I am not religious, but my grandpa knows I am an Atheist. We were talking when he asked if I believed in God and I flat out said "No.", he wasn't really taken aback about it. I am lucky enough to have a pretty cool family. He said he would still pray for me and I told him that that would be fine with me. When he said that, I told him that if I was him I would be doing the same thing. He told me that he did not understand what I meant, I told him that if I were a Christian and I knew someone in the family was a non-believer that I would pray for them as well.

My parents live 9 hours away and when they visited last year I gave my mom a copy of "The God Delusion" hoping they would read it but she called me later that week and said they had nothing but bad luck once they got it and that she would either throw it away or send it back, I asked her to just send it back.

It really saddens me that my parents are wasting their lives and effort for something that too me is so childish...... I really do hope they see the light one day.

If they asked if I didn't believe at all I would tell them, but other than that I don't really bother with it.

As a side note of proof: I didn't tell them I was gay until my dad finally asked when I was 21, :|
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: periwinklefish on January 12, 2011, 09:10:54 AM
:)
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Tank on May 01, 2011, 03:34:00 PM
Bump for n00bs :)
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Poptop on May 29, 2011, 07:40:48 AM
Clear advice.  I've not heard a 'how to' on coming out. Thanks.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Tank on May 29, 2011, 07:46:23 AM
Clear advice.  I've not heard a 'how to' on coming out. Thanks.

Appreciated. It's very difficult giving advice like this as a) I've never had to do it and b) all situations are unique and sometimes very different. So at best it'll be a generalisation. And the synthesis is 'take control' of the situation don't let the situation take control of one.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: LukevanVeith on September 25, 2011, 08:58:15 AM
This is gonna be hard for me... But thanks :)
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Good and Godless on October 18, 2011, 10:56:20 PM
I'm just now reading this thread.  I'm fairly new and slowly making my way through the forum.

Anyway, I recently came out to my father when he was visiting in August.  Even though I didn't read your advice, I just happened to do most of what you said, and it went surprisingly well.  He did say, "Well, I went through the same thing when I was your age.  Now, I know there's a god and that he has done some things for me in my life."  I didn't really like the implication that I will one day re-convert.  I get the de-converters like myself.  I don't really understand people who go the other way.  I would think it would be more difficult to be brainwashed as an adult, but I guess most people just need something to believe in.  My dad converted for my mom, and you know the saying "love is blind."  Love can be dumb, too.

To get back on track, we had a great conversation.  I think two of the important points Tank makes is to leave slack in your argument and respect the other person's world view.  Your "coming out" is not the ideal time to try to talk sense into believers.  Fortunately, my dad wasn't argumentative with me.  He did ask me what I thought about my mom, since she died of ovarian cancer about 8 years ago.  He asked if I thought she was "just gone."  I told him that yes, I think she is gone in that she isn't up in heaven or hovering around as a spirit somewhere.  However, I think she lives on in my memories, in the genetics she passed on to me and my kids (she sadly did not live to be a grandmother), and in the stories I will be sure to tell my kids about her so that they "know" her as an influence in their lives.  He nodded his head at that and seemed satisfied.

Overall, I was happy with the conversation and feel it brought us closer as a father and daughter.  My dad's history as an atheist helped make him sympathetic to my worldview, even though he clearly thinks this is a fleeting "phase" in my life.  I imagine it might be more difficult to come out to a person who has never been skeptical.

Good luck to anyone who has this conversation!
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Troll god on October 28, 2011, 11:11:44 PM
Time ago I was talking to an american girl(14 yo). I 'met' her randomly on a chat. She told me that her family was catholic, racist and violent. She told me she was from Ohio and she told me that she was afraid to tell her parents that she was not believing in god. I told her to call the police if they would become violent again, she said she'll do that. Frankly, I don't think she's going to do that. She was so afraid even because she told me her story, I did not even wanted to know her name, she told me her name anyway(I'm not thinking to tell that). Funny thing is that, that chat was not even supposed to allow under-aged persons there, she told me that she was chatting anyway, because she was feeling alone in her house, her parents was very strict and wanted her to have catholic friends only, but the area was full of protestants. :-[
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: kimberlyfaith81 on December 14, 2011, 10:47:14 PM
Thank you for the very well thought out advice.  My deconversion occurred about four years ago.  I have deeply religious family and friends.  My ex (husband at the time) was pretty blasé about religion in general.  So telling him was easy.  But the rest of my family.....  Siiiiggghh.  I do love my parents, a lot.  And knowing where they are, I knew that declaring myself as an atheist would be emotionally devastating for them.  I mean, on their knees every night begging god to save my soul, devastating.  So, I didn't plan on telling them at all.  One day, I picked my mother up in my car to take her somewhere.  I happened to be reading "The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality" at the time.  I did NOT leave it in my purse on purpose, I think.  She found it.  Oh boy.  Surprisingly, the response was rather muted.  Bascially, they believed it was a phase I was going through.  I would work through it and find my way back to the truth.  I had stopped going to church already, mostly with excuses.  I stopped coming up with excuses and stayed home.  A couple of years go by, no one has asked me about my faith, I've kept my mouth shut out of respect.  But they want my children in church.  Every time the doors are open, they want my children there.  What do you do?  They adore my children.  I'm sending them to hell with my blatant disregard of the Lord's wishes!!  How do you look your parents in the face and smile while you "send their grandchildren to hell???"  So, I started taking them to church.  I'm such a coward.  First day I went, my father cried.  Literally cried, in church.  No one asked if I had changed my mind.  I didn't offer.  Am I still an atheist? YES.  Do I want to break their hearts?? NO! But I want better for my children.  So, here I am.  Stuck, pretending.  And finding myself very thankful for HAF!
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Tank on December 15, 2011, 10:45:44 AM
Thank you for the very well thought out advice.  My deconversion occurred about four years ago.  I have deeply religious family and friends.  My ex (husband at the time) was pretty blasé about religion in general.  So telling him was easy.  But the rest of my family.....  Siiiiggghh.  I do love my parents, a lot.  And knowing where they are, I knew that declaring myself as an atheist would be emotionally devastating for them.  I mean, on their knees every night begging god to save my soul, devastating.  So, I didn't plan on telling them at all.  One day, I picked my mother up in my car to take her somewhere.  I happened to be reading "The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality" at the time.  I did NOT leave it in my purse on purpose, I think.  She found it.  Oh boy.  Surprisingly, the response was rather muted.  Bascially, they believed it was a phase I was going through.  I would work through it and find my way back to the truth.  I had stopped going to church already, mostly with excuses.  I stopped coming up with excuses and stayed home.  A couple of years go by, no one has asked me about my faith, I've kept my mouth shut out of respect.  But they want my children in church.  Every time the doors are open, they want my children there.  What do you do?  They adore my children.  I'm sending them to hell with my blatant disregard of the Lord's wishes!!  How do you look your parents in the face and smile while you "send their grandchildren to hell???"  So, I started taking them to church.  I'm such a coward.  First day I went, my father cried.  Literally cried, in church.  No one asked if I had changed my mind.  I didn't offer.  Am I still an atheist? YES.  Do I want to break their hearts?? NO! But I want better for my children.  So, here I am.  Stuck, pretending.  And finding myself very thankful for HAF!

I have started a new thread based on your post as the issue is relevent to many families and isn't absolutly on-topic in this thread.

Here is the new thread http://www.happyatheistforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=8885.0
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: unholy1971 on December 19, 2011, 03:51:26 AM
I haven't yet told my family that I am an atheist.  My family are all devout christians, so if I ever tell them, they are not going to take it well.  I can see them have an intervention for me LOL.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Poptop on December 19, 2011, 04:03:32 AM
Ha ha, an intervention. You're not alone in that concern.  I've often worried during my drive over to a family members house for a dinner invitation is actually going to be an intervention. 
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: lomfs24 on December 26, 2011, 06:47:06 PM
Thank you so much for the helpful advise. I was raised a Jehovah's Witness, my father still is. My mother passed away a few years ago and my sister got divorced so she was cast out of the congregation. My sister has made no effort to return to the organization. So when I made the decision that I no longer held the same world view as JW's my sister was the natural choice to talk to. She was very receptive and stated that she felt much the same way I did, although, had not done the research to reach that conclusion. That was the easy one. My father on the other hand is the one that I am concerned about. Since my mother passed he has married a woman that, in my humble opinion, doesn't have brains to pour piss out of a boot. And he seems to listen to what ever she says. I think that my father will listen and understand where I am coming from but I fear that I will lose him because of the moronic rantings of that woman. And it's not like he will completely shun me, it's just that he will never find the time to come and visit which will be hard on my kids not ever seeing grandpa again.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: superfes on January 16, 2012, 11:06:16 PM
Wow,

You know what... I didn't really come up with a plan...

I remember one year my parents came down to see me and my brother, I don't remember if he was still going to school or not, but we both live in the same state... anyways, I remember it happening in 3 conversations, I started by merely showing my disinterest, but by the 3rd conversation that same night I was pretty much to the point of irritation >_>

Don't think people should follow my example at all BTW.

Here's how it went, in the first conversation my mother was asking me to reflect on my absence of church going and I should consider going to church again so I could right myself in her perspective, for which I stated that that probably was never going to happen.

The second time she brought it up she was trying to assert her beliefs by telling me about her dream and that she prayed about it and brought up the event that made me question my beliefs in the first place (This is me saying that the event was something that affected our family as a whole not that I'd told my mother about how I lost my faith ;-), so I was told her that it was my firm belief that all of that crap is completely fictitious and she really shouldn't bother me about it any longer.

When my parents were readying to leave, my mother attempted to put in a final effort but I interrupted her and essentially told her to shove it and to take care of people that she could actually help because I was free >_>

Anyway... there was some time before my parents spoke to me again, I'm sure I made an impression on the other people around me at the time as well <_<

So, don't do what I did unless misanthropy is your thing.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Amicale on January 20, 2012, 03:36:32 AM
This is a great set of instructions, and I think they'd be really helpful and supportive for someone struggling with how to tell their family.  :)

For me, there was never one 'moment' when I 'came out' as a skeptic to my family. It's been a long, gradual process. As a child, I attended a Catholic church with family members, and in my teens I stopped going, and dabbled in a bunch of different stuff, read a ton of philosophy, researched world religions, and generally just tried to open up my mind a little more, a bit at a time. I quite often felt strongly pulled in two different directions. Christianity appealed to me mostly for sentimental reasons -- it was what I'd been used to for so long, and in many ways, it was a comfort and source of strength. On the other hand, my naturally skeptical side often kicked in, and I was asking all kinds of questions of myself and others. As I entered university, I still attended Mass or Protestant services from time to time (I wasn't devoutly loyal to either camp), but I started reading more and more about science, philosophy, history, etc... and I found myself getting pulled more strongly in a secular direction.

While all this was going on, as I learned new ideas, talked with folks and came to new conclusions, I shared those concerns and ideas with both my mom and a few close friends, etc. As I said, it was gradual. Eventually, I realized I was comfortable enough to be essentially where I remain today: I don't know if a Creator exists or not, but I don't care for the way the idea of God has been used and largely abused by almost all of the world's religions, Christianity included. The arguments and apologetics for faith made less sense to me, and I saw the way people spoke, claiming to know the mind of this God, although almost all of them disagreed on a lot of the fundamental aspects, although all claimed the same basic faith. I'm sick and tired of churches pitting themselves against one another, and of them pitting themselves collectively against everyone who disagrees with them. I'd no longer feel comfortable belonging to any of them. As someone in another thread here said, God needs a much better PR team.

I've shared these views, along the way, with the people who are close to me. They understand my perspective, and for the most part, my family's respectfully disagreed with me, but they've let me think whatever I want to, without giving me much grief about it. My grandpa sometimes jokes that I belong to the "round church" (you run around and around in circles so the devil can't catch you, lol) but overall... I'm profoundly aware that I've gotten off VERY lightly, in terms of how little my immediate family was bothered by my telling them about my beliefs.

My dad, on the other hand, was another story. He hasn't been a big part of my life for years, and he moved far away with his second wife... but ever since I've clued him in on my doubts and ideas (he's a fundie Protestant), he's just given up on talking much. If we talk once every month or two, the conversation's strained, it never lasts long, and from what he's told me, he believes I've screwed up my life irreparably with my 'heavenly Father' by my ideas and choices -- which is ironic, considering my earthly father bailed on us when I was a kid, LOL.

So, it is what it is. I'm thankful to have a close, loving immediate family who I get along very well with, and if one person out of the bunch wants to phase themselves out of my and his grand daughter's life... that's his choice. I'd rather live with integrity, and try to teach her to also.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Harmonie on January 27, 2012, 05:50:05 PM
I don't think I can ever do it. I've come out (about another thing) enough, and even that has been 'ignored' by my family.

I think that in this case I'll just keep my mouth shut. Aside from prospective employers, my family is perhaps the most scary group to tell I'm a atheist. They are so religious. I got that vibe from how they've talked about those who are non-religious. My sister had a really bad ex who cheated and he identified himself as an 'Agnostic' (yet he was as conservative and homophobic as they come). So my mom went on this rant about how we must not date those who are not religious because they are not good people.  :-[

They never force me to go to church, in fact they hardly go to church themselves. So you know, I have to pick my battles wisely. This one isn't worth fighting. In regards to my friends and otherwise I'll let them know I'm an atheist, but with my family it's best I just not.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Tank on January 27, 2012, 06:16:12 PM
You know your situation best so only you can make the appropriate choice. IF you ever do decide to tell your family this is one possible way you could consider doing it and nothing more.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Amicale on January 28, 2012, 04:28:46 AM
I don't think I can ever do it. I've come out (about another thing) enough, and even that has been 'ignored' by my family.

I think that in this case I'll just keep my mouth shut. Aside from prospective employers, my family is perhaps the most scary group to tell I'm a atheist. They are so religious. I got that vibe from how they've talked about those who are non-religious. My sister had a really bad ex who cheated and he identified himself as an 'Agnostic' (yet he was as conservative and homophobic as they come). So my mom went on this rant about how we must not date those who are not religious because they are not good people.  :-[

They never force me to go to church, in fact they hardly go to church themselves. So you know, I have to pick my battles wisely. This one isn't worth fighting. In regards to my friends and otherwise I'll let them know I'm an atheist, but with my family it's best I just not.

Tank's got that right for sure, Radiant. There's no one way you 'have' to do it. Sometimes, certain scenarios work well for others, but not for us. Only you know your family and how they'll react to something. If you're fairly sure that the answer is 'very, very badly', then you might consider others in your life who you trust to speak to about how you're feeling... family friends, teachers, your own friends... even us here online, for now. :)

The main thing right now is keep yourself safe and secure, probably. Nobody wants their entire family ignoring them, fighting with them daily, or worse. So, it's your call who you tell and when, but rest assured that you can definitely find community to toss ideas around with anytime.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: En_Route on February 08, 2012, 09:02:14 PM
Atheism on the whole is no big deal in the UK, although of course it may be an inflammatory  issue within particular families. As far as I can see in America it is something which attracts serious social opprobium (maybe not so in New York and other big cities?) There is no equivalent here of the bible belt, where it must be impossible for an independent mind to breathe.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Dobermonster on February 09, 2012, 05:10:16 AM
En_Route, that's just one of the reasons I feel more kin to the UK culture than my own. I remember watching an episode of QI (trivia-based panel show, for those who haven't seen it) where they talked about the Rapture, and Fry introduced the subject with something like, "Do you know what I'm referring to? It's huge in America . . . " My first reaction was to wonder that the subject was not widely known or acknowledged, immediately followed by wishing I lived in a culture that took the same sort of remote interest in a mythology so many here take seriously.

Back on topic . . .

My first attempt to ease my family into coming to terms with my disbelief was . . . less than successful. I was 16, and still quite deferential to my parents. It took me a lot of courage to firmly but politely explain that I didn't truly believe in the teachings, and that until I came to some sort of conclusion, I didn't want to continue attending church. I tried to explain it as just needing some time to consider things and do my own independent research, so please don't force the issue. The week that I did that was filled with lectures, and tears (mostly from my mother . . . and who wants to see their mother cry?). They only stopped asking me to come to services a few years ago. I've gone into some detail in other posts about the rest of the story, so I'll stop there. To summarize, my lack of belief still hasn't been accepted, and I seriously doubt it ever will. Perhaps there are some things I could have done differently or said better to keep the peace, but I was embittered about religion early on in my adulthood, and it's difficult to suppress all the urges to lash out (verbally) after years of oppression.

I certainly advocate the majority of the original post. If you want to stack the odds in favor of an easy transition, enter like a lamb, not a lion. Keep the peace when possible, and whenever else, keep your head. Reiterate your love for them, even if their reaction seems loveless. Emphasize your desire to put your relationships first, but don't let them use that to blackmail you into submission. If they pray before meals, be silent and respectful. Understand that these rituals, and others like them, are not something to be fought over - it's not worth it, and they are essentially harmless. Save your energy for when you need to advocate on behalf of reason in real world, truly harmful situations. There are plenty. If they are essentially reasonable and intelligent people, there may come a time when you find yourself (wanted or unwanted) in a theological discussion - this is not necessarily a bad thing. If it's civil and respectful, it may be an opportunity to help them understand your position and debunk myths about atheism (for example, the belief that atheists are amoral). Above all, don't expect them to change, and don't try. I wish everyone in this position good luck and fortitude.

When you're feeling discouraged, find something to inspire you. I personally love watching shows and documentaries on new and old scientific discoveries, or just learning more about things I'm fuzzy on, like quantum theory. Reason isn't just a way of life; you can find great pleasure in seeing its rewards.

Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: En_Route on February 09, 2012, 02:19:42 PM
En_Route, that's just one of the reasons I feel more kin to the UK culture than my own. I remember watching an episode of QI (trivia-based panel show, for those who haven't seen it) where they talked about the Rapture, and Fry introduced the subject with something like, "Do you know what I'm referring to? It's huge in America . . . " My first reaction was to wonder that the subject was not widely known or acknowledged, immediately followed by wishing I lived in a culture that took the same sort of remote interest in a mythology so many here take seriously.

Back on topic . . .

My first attempt to ease my family into coming to terms with my disbelief was . . . less than successful. I was 16, and still quite deferential to my parents. It took me a lot of courage to firmly but politely explain that I didn't truly believe in the teachings, and that until I came to some sort of conclusion, I didn't want to continue attending church. I tried to explain it as just needing some time to consider things and do my own independent research, so please don't force the issue. The week that I did that was filled with lectures, and tears (mostly from my mother . . . and who wants to see their mother cry?). They only stopped asking me to come to services a few years ago. I've gone into some detail in other posts about the rest of the story, so I'll stop there. To summarize, my lack of belief still hasn't been accepted, and I seriously doubt it ever will. Perhaps there are some things I could have done differently or said better to keep the peace, but I was embittered about religion early on in my adulthood, and it's difficult to suppress all the urges to lash out (verbally) after years of oppression.

I certainly advocate the majority of the original post. If you want to stack the odds in favor of an easy transition, enter like a lamb, not a lion. Keep the peace when possible, and whenever else, keep your head. Reiterate your love for them, even if their reaction seems loveless. Emphasize your desire to put your relationships first, but don't let them use that to blackmail you into submission. If they pray before meals, be silent and respectful. Understand that these rituals, and others like them, are not something to be fought over - it's not worth it, and they are essentially harmless. Save your energy for when you need to advocate on behalf of reason in real world, truly harmful situations. There are plenty. If they are essentially reasonable and intelligent people, there may come a time when you find yourself (wanted or unwanted) in a theological discussion - this is not necessarily a bad thing. If it's civil and respectful, it may be an opportunity to help them understand your position and debunk myths about atheism (for example, the belief that atheists are amoral). Above all, don't expect them to change, and don't try. I wish everyone in this position good luck and fortitude.

When you're feeling discouraged, find something to inspire you. I personally love watching shows and documentaries on new and old scientific discoveries, or just learning more about things I'm fuzzy on, like quantum theory. Reason isn't just a way of life; you can find great pleasure in seeing its rewards.



A lot of Americans seem to have swallowed wholesale everything they were taught before the age of six and have never thought to question it since. It still seems mind-boggling to me that a large swathe of the electorate of a supposedly sophisticated superpower could ever have taken a blatantly opportunistic ignoramus like Sarah Palin seriously. Here we would have simply laughed her out of court as a figure of fun.  America really at times gives cynicism a good name. I think your reactions in your more tender years are pretty well standard- impossible to find and express yourself without rattling the cage. As for  Quantum Theory, as the man said, if you think you understand it, then you don't understand it. It is bracing to realise though that the fundamental building-blocks of what we perceive as reality defy all the laws which we think we can safely infer from that reality. I think in any attempt to explain our origins we are simply out of our depth. In describing quantum phenomena we have to draw on analogies plucked from our limited experience but we can never actually capture their essence.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Dobermonster on February 09, 2012, 07:48:40 PM


A lot of Americans seem to have swallowed wholesale everything they were taught before the age of six and have never thought to question it since. It still seems mind-boggling to me that a large swathe of the electorate of a supposedly sophisticated superpower could ever have taken a blatantly opportunistic ignoramus like Sarah Palin seriously. Here we would have simply laughed her out of court as a figure of fun.  America really at times gives cynicism a good name. I think your reactions in your more tender years are pretty well standard- impossible to find and express yourself without rattling the cage. As for  Quantum Theory, as the man said, if you think you understand it, then you don't understand it. It is bracing to realise though that the fundamental building-blocks of what we perceive as reality defy all the laws which we think we can safely infer from that reality. I think in any attempt to explain our origins we are simply out of our depth. In describing quantum phenomena we have to draw on analogies plucked from our limited experience but we can never actually capture their essence.

That's what I find so interesting and (dare I say it?) awe-inspiring about a concept like quantum theory. It is a scientific theory that humans have developed, and yet it is beyond the capacity of the human mind to truly understand it. We can say it is true because it can be tested against other known truths, and accept that in full knowledge that we may never really know what it means. Who would have thought that we could calculate the probability that an object will spontaneously appear outside of the box that contained it? I've heard some argue (you can guess from what group) that it's akin to holding a religious belief. But of course, those can't be objectively tested.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: harte.beest on May 13, 2012, 05:26:03 AM
I always pityied those raised in religous households ::)...... i don't think I've had any discussions, with my family, about god, that weren't sarcastic or filled with laughter ;)...... again.......... I feel sorry for those indoctrinated into their parent's religion :'(.... but that's no excuse for their behavior >:(......... they deserve to be held accountable for their actions....... regardless of their upbringing..... no matter how old :-*
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: cncracer on June 25, 2012, 07:34:50 PM
I had my doubts as a young child, I revolted against going to my father protestant church as an eight year old, and my mother’s family was too far away to force the Jewish issue. I doubt they ever would have as they seldom went themselves. I was dropped off with my grandfather who took me visit family, or play golf. On rare occasions we would go to a soul food place in the downtown area of the coastal town we lived in, these were rare treats, and developed my love of soul food.  The time with him was an education, and one I still value 50 years later. Nothing was ever said about my not going to church by him or the other family members. I am sure it is due to the stress I had been under as a child and one which they understood returning to the site of the stress was not a productive action to take.  As a high school student I knew I did not believe the Christian teachings. I rejected the bible as false and myths based, adn was open about my distrust of religion. As I entered the mid to late teens I studied eastern religions and liked Buddhism but again saw it was not a god, just a human.  During my military period I was already an open Atheist. I had None for religion on my dog tags in the late 1960, war or no war. I was not the only one with none on my tags, and in that period, unlike today, no one cared.  I returned to College where I became an active Atheist. I regressed after graduation as I entered the working world and recognized the discrimination I would have to put up with if I professed my views on the Christian faith.  As I continued working, climbing the corporate ladder, and gathering more education I discovered I was working with many non-religious people. Life became easier, and I came out of the Atheist closet.
My sister was the only one who seemed to not recognize or accept my lack of religion. After a very stress full period with sick parents where I had a day with too many religious statements pressed on me; I sat down and carefully wrote her a tactful letter expressing my surprise she would use this period to press her views on any member of the family. I knew she recognized most of us were Atheist. She sent me a nice letter back and with unsurpassed southern tact and said she recognized we had different views, and she was just hoping to make things easier not more stressful.  The exchange of letters was the end of the religious pressure from any family member in both directions, and we seem to be closer without the question of religion hanging over our heads.  Family now will make off color jokes about the” Science Side of the Family” and their views while the Science Side makes fun of the wasted time dealing with myths. Looking back on the process I think both sides just evolved into an acceptance of each other. 
 I look forward to the time when I can retire now. I plan to become active in the Atheist movement and now have joined three local active groups in my area, and one national group out of DC. We have six Atheist groups in the Research Triangle area of NC. The members in those groups have to be pushing the 2000 mark. Not bad for an area in the bible belt. 
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Tank on October 24, 2015, 07:45:53 PM
Bump
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Waski_the_Squirrel on November 08, 2015, 07:42:51 PM
I found it easy to tell my parents. It turned out they had been on the same approximate journey as me at about the same time. I had tentatively probed with a few things on their last visit, and then realized they had been doing the same thing, so we all just admitted it to each other.

I still call myself a "social deist" but only because I really love the group at my small country church. From the demographics of the church, it will only last a few more years, and I enjoy spending time with these people. I suppose that makes me a bad atheist, but I keep going back for the people. The potluck lunch after every service is a great thing. We're small enough we all fit around one dining room table, and we're like a family.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Tank on November 08, 2015, 07:48:34 PM
I found it easy to tell my parents. It turned out they had been on the same approximate journey as me at about the same time. I had tentatively probed with a few things on their last visit, and then realized they had been doing the same thing, so we all just admitted it to each other.

I still call myself a "social deist" but only because I really love the group at my small country church. From the demographics of the church, it will only last a few more years, and I enjoy spending time with these people. I suppose that makes me a bad atheist, but I keep going back for the people. The potluck lunch after every service is a great thing. We're small enough we all fit around one dining room table, and we're like a family.

Quite the opposite in my opinion. Atheism isn't a dogma or creed. There's no such thing as a good or bad atheist just a good or bad person who calls themselves an atheist. And when atheists outnumber theists the focus will be fair and square on our behaviour.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: OldGit on November 08, 2015, 07:51:59 PM
And obviously the people at the church are pretty easy-going and tolerant, not the sort an atheist might feel the need to quarrel with.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Recusant on November 08, 2015, 08:06:47 PM
I still call myself a "social deist" but only because I really love the group at my small country church. From the demographics of the church, it will only last a few more years, and I enjoy spending time with these people. I suppose that makes me a bad atheist, but I keep going back for the people.

I concur with Tank here. Being an atheist doesn't mean you can't attend church, or even stand behind the pulpit if you're willing, and it certainly doesn't mean you should cut yourself off from religious friends and family that you love and enjoy being around. Though there are small-minded atheists who would advocate such ridiculous behavior, that sort of thinking is much more likely to come from ultra-dogmatic religious folk, as no doubt you are well aware.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Icarus on July 17, 2016, 06:56:07 AM
I have the dubious distinction of being the oldest member of this forum...or any other forum for that matter. I am 86 and still paying attention.  The actuarial tables have me dead the day before yesterday. I am not going without a helluva fight because I like it here and I am in good health. Nonetheless, reality is upon me.

My daughter is my only surviving heir. She is an educated and  intelligent woman who is unfortunately married (happily) to a particularly devout Christian man. He is not a raving lunatic but is a certified Jesus person.

My daughter will be the beneficiary of some of my estate. It is not nearly big enough to settle the national debt but it is not chopped liver either.

My dilemma goes like this...............Daughter has done well and will not need any inheritance to assure her future.  I will writhe in agony in my grave if she uses any part of her inheritance to subsidize, gift, or otherwise use her inheritance to help any religious entity. Not the church, missionary, bible school, VBS, publisher of biblical texts or tracts, or any other thing that is remotely encouraging to the continued perpetration of what I regard as criminal enterprise.  She is an obligatory Southern Baptist ensconced near the buckle of the bible belt in the state of Georgia.  As a matter of established law, I cannot direct the disposition of whatever assets that I might leave to her.

Comments?

Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Dave on July 17, 2016, 07:25:41 AM
Does your daughter know that you are an atheist, Icarus?

You seem to imply she does not financially need to benefit from your estate, is it your fatherliness that encourages you to leave her a slice?

Could you not leave her a token and the remainder to a non-religious charity that she would approve of?
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Tank on July 17, 2016, 07:27:14 AM
I have the dubious distinction of being the oldest member of this forum...or any other forum for that matter. I am 86 and still paying attention.  The actuarial tables have me dead the day before yesterday. I am not going without a helluva fight because I like it here and I am in good health. Nonetheless, reality is upon me.

My daughter is my only surviving heir. She is an educated and  intelligent woman who is unfortunately married (happily) to a particularly devout Christian man. He is not a raving lunatic but is a certified Jesus person.

My daughter will be the beneficiary of some of my estate. It is not nearly big enough to settle the national debt but it is not chopped liver either.

My dilemma goes like this...............Daughter has done well and will not need any inheritance to assure her future.  I will writhe in agony in my grave if she uses any part of her inheritance to subsidize, gift, or otherwise use her inheritance to help any religious entity. Not the church, missionary, bible school, VBS, publisher of biblical texts or tracts, or any other thing that is remotely encouraging to the continued perpetration of what I regard as criminal enterprise.  She is an obligatory Southern Baptist ensconced near the buckle of the bible belt in the state of Georgia.  As a matter of established law, I cannot direct the disposition of whatever assets that I might leave to her.

Comments?
Grandchildren yet? I assume not as I assume you'd have mentioned them.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Bad Penny II on July 17, 2016, 07:28:38 AM
As a matter of established law, I cannot direct the disposition of whatever assets that I might leave to her.

Comments?

Are sure about that?
Ecurb might explain the local trust laws but he'll probably have to charge.
There should be a system to leave money to incompetents that can be used even if society doesn't recognise faith as a fault.

My view would be to spend it or don't fuss about it.
Too many old people skimp and save so not so youngens can have a splurge.
If a person has one source of income of $50,000 donates to god $5,000 p.a. then gets a second source of $50,000 which can only be spent on secular purposes they could satisfy that stipulation and just donate all of their original income.  Attempting to control things after your dead seems to much of a fuss to me but good luck anyway.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Tank on July 17, 2016, 07:34:01 AM
Icarus

Can you establish a trust that supports a science education program? Leave the majority of money to the trust.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Icarus on July 18, 2016, 02:26:09 AM
 Muffet...that's my pet name for her, knows that I am an atheist and that I am fully capable of arguing my position well enough to cast serious doubt on her faith.  I do not do that with her because she is the only surviving member of my vanishing bloodline. . She loves me anyway because as previously claimed she is intelligent and would probably be open to my position under different circumstances. Muffet is 60 years old, childless by choice.  My adopted son is deceased. His progeny is not even in the mix. I do not like them but that is a whole other creepy story.  Besides that, his offspring do not know me from Adams house cat. I like it that way.

To leave whatever is left  of an estate to a scientific or scholastic organization is certainly an option. Not an easy option.    I/we  have been very close friends and respectful supporters and admirers for as long as she has lived, it would be awkward or even cruel, to ignore her in the final go round.  I love her dearly and will defend her right to a different philosophy whether I agree (painfully) with it or not.  This is one of life's emotional dilemmas I suppose. 

All that may resolve itself because my wife is only 70 and will be the primary beneficiary when I sail over the bar. Elaine will be the sole beneficiary if she manages to survive me. She is not a spendthrift but she does have some tendencies to piss away the family treasures  to fund the he travel junkets which she is convinced is a human necessity.

Thank you for the comments. I respect the wisdom of my HAF friends.  I also thank you all for allowing someone so far removed from the forum demographic to participate with apparent equality.


Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Siz on July 18, 2016, 09:57:54 PM
What is the forum demographic? Did I miss the memo?
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Magdalena on July 18, 2016, 10:45:02 PM
What is the forum demographic? Did I miss the memo?
Excellent question.  :smilenod:
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Dave on July 19, 2016, 09:35:57 AM
What is the forum demographic? Did I miss the memo?
Excellent question.  :smilenod:
Be interesting to see the age profile, the peak was 60 - 70  in a poll in another forum IIRC.

Is this a reflection of the "age of wisdom" or an indication of loads of spare time to spend on such things!

Mine is the former, of course.  ;D
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Icarus on July 19, 2016, 10:38:22 PM
^ I think that we have a good and favorable mixture. Buddy is about 19, maybe 20. I think that Crow was a young'un too. We have some sixties and a few seventies while the rest fill in the middle.  I reckon that I am the one who is off the deep end of the chart at 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 + 5
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Magdalena on July 20, 2016, 03:55:30 AM
What is the forum demographic? Did I miss the memo?
Excellent question.  :smilenod:
Be interesting to see the age profile, the peak was 60 - 70  in a poll in another forum IIRC.
Can we do something like that, here?
 :chin: It would be interesting to see the age profile. 
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Magdalena on July 20, 2016, 04:22:49 AM
This should go in the "Talking to myself" thread, but it's related to the previous posts.
Question:
Can we put one of those Pokémon things here so that we can lure/attract/trap more young people? Where the hell are all the young atheists?  :scratch:
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: MariaEvri on July 20, 2016, 01:27:26 PM
This should go in the "Talking to myself" thread, but it's related to the previous posts.
Question:
Can we put one of those Pokémon things here so that we can lure/attract/trap more young people? Where the hell are all the young atheists?  :scratch:


something like that but with forum users!
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Asmodean on July 20, 2016, 02:07:48 PM
Be interesting to see the age profile, the peak was 60 - 70  in a poll in another forum IIRC.

Is this a reflection of the "age of wisdom" or an indication of loads of spare time to spend on such things!

Mine is the former, of course.  ;D
The Asmo is about 952. Or might as well be. :(
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Magdalena on July 20, 2016, 02:40:21 PM
This should go in the "Talking to myself" thread, but it's related to the previous posts.
Question:
Can we put one of those Pokémon things here so that we can lure/attract/trap more young people? Where the hell are all the young atheists?  :scratch:


something like that but with forum users!
Yes, something like that!  :tellmemore:
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Magdalena on July 20, 2016, 02:43:15 PM
Be interesting to see the age profile, the peak was 60 - 70  in a poll in another forum IIRC.

Is this a reflection of the "age of wisdom" or an indication of loads of spare time to spend on such things!

Mine is the former, of course.  ;D
The Asmo is about 952. Or might as well be. :(
The Asmo is old. I'm 416 years old.  :-\
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Waski_the_Squirrel on July 20, 2016, 07:58:21 PM
I have the dubious distinction of being the oldest member of this forum...or any other forum for that matter. I am 86 and still paying attention.  The actuarial tables have me dead the day before yesterday. I am not going without a helluva fight because I like it here and I am in good health. Nonetheless, reality is upon me.

My dilemma goes like this...............Daughter has done well and will not need any inheritance to assure her future.  I will writhe in agony in my grave if she uses any part of her inheritance to subsidize, gift, or otherwise use her inheritance to help any religious entity.

My feeling is that if you pass it on to her, it is up to her to use it as she chooses. Even if she does not spend it directly on the church, it could still free up other money to spend on the church.

My suggestion would be to endow a scholarship for any grandchildren. There are ways to set up accounts for that. You would be helping out your daughter by helping her children and freeing them from college debt.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: xSilverPhinx on July 21, 2016, 12:30:09 AM
What is the forum demographic? Did I miss the memo?
Excellent question.  :smilenod:
Be interesting to see the age profile, the peak was 60 - 70  in a poll in another forum IIRC.
Can we do something like that, here?
 :chin: It would be interesting to see the age profile.

That would be cool! Do you want to start the poll?
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Magdalena on July 21, 2016, 04:27:40 AM
What is the forum demographic? Did I miss the memo?
Excellent question.  :smilenod:
Be interesting to see the age profile, the peak was 60 - 70  in a poll in another forum IIRC.
Can we do something like that, here?
 :chin: It would be interesting to see the age profile.

That would be cool! Do you want to start the poll?

Yes, I would, but I think someone with more experience in this sort of thing should do it.    :-\
Do you want to start the poll?  :grin:
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: xSilverPhinx on July 21, 2016, 05:39:00 AM
What is the forum demographic? Did I miss the memo?
Excellent question.  :smilenod:
Be interesting to see the age profile, the peak was 60 - 70  in a poll in another forum IIRC.
Can we do something like that, here?
 :chin: It would be interesting to see the age profile.

That would be cool! Do you want to start the poll?

Yes, I would, but I think someone with more experience in this sort of thing should do it.    :-\
Do you want to start the poll?  :grin:

I don't think I've ever started a poll before. :lol:  Go ahead. :smilenod:
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: gentle_dissident on July 21, 2016, 05:42:49 AM
Be interesting to see the age profile, the peak was 60 - 70  in a poll in another forum IIRC.
I'm 48. I'm glad this an older crowd. The young atheists I've met online seem angry and are infatuated with video games.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: gentle_dissident on July 21, 2016, 05:48:18 AM
RE: How to tell your family you are an atheist.

Tank, I'm only that compromising with my customers at work. It's because I want to keep my job. As one handsome "former" obviously gay boy who guilted himself into being an evangelist knows, I'm straight forward any other time.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Magdalena on July 21, 2016, 06:18:28 AM
What is the forum demographic? Did I miss the memo?
Excellent question.  :smilenod:
Be interesting to see the age profile, the peak was 60 - 70  in a poll in another forum IIRC.
Can we do something like that, here?
 :chin: It would be interesting to see the age profile.

That would be cool! Do you want to start the poll?

Yes, I would, but I think someone with more experience in this sort of thing should do it.    :-\
Do you want to start the poll?  :grin:

I don't think I've ever started a poll before. :lol:  Go ahead. :smilenod:

Oh, no, I don't think so.  :smileshake:

~Can someone here help us with this? Please. Thank you.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Recusant on July 21, 2016, 06:46:49 AM

~Can someone here help us with this? Please. Thank you.

I think we had a poll like this years ago. Here's a new one. (http://www.happyatheistforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=14583.0)  :)
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: VedereD on July 22, 2016, 05:44:11 PM
I, too, have no intention of ever telling my family.  My brother might be the only one who would shrug and say, "ok, whatever."  My husband knows, and that's good enough for me.

My parents didn't take us to church, but raised us with Christian ideas.  It's funny, because it's my mom who had the most issues with going to church herself, because she found the people there to be hypocrites.  But I know she'd be the one who'd be most upset if she found out about my beliefs (or lack thereof).  I mean, she'd just have a meltdown worrying about me.  Overall it just seems best not to rock the boat or cause them emotional turmoil.

It was less my family's religious behavior that put me off a belief in god and more the behavior of other Christians plus my own reality check that did it.  My family's approach (or the message I got from them) was pretty simple--love people.  And I still embrace that.  The first thing that started eroding my belief was all the hostility toward LGBTQ folks by other Christians.  After being raised to believe that Love = God, I could in no way process the hatred toward and fear of that community.  My mom has even come around to realizing that being LGBTQ isn't some sinful lifestyle choice, that people are born the way they are. 

But even as open-minded as they seem to be, I don't really quite trust my family's reaction to something as profound as not believing in God.  It's one thing to embrace LGBTQ, but it's another thing altogether to say you don't believe, because that means I don't think I'll see my grandfather again, or that I'll see my parents again in the afterlife.  I would threaten my mom's connection to my grandfather (her dad) in the afterlife, and I would threaten my own immortal soul. 

I wasn't really raised with the idea of a vengeful or jealous god, but one time, when I was briefly unemployed, stressed out, and miserable, my mom suggested that God might be punishing me because I'd done something wrong.  That was atypical.  And it's part of what makes me hesitate to say anything.  Because despite their relatively liberal and progressive ideas (they're even pro-choice), I think there's some deeply embedded dogma that could rear its ugly head in very unexpected ways.

As much as I love them, they're quite the paradox to me.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Arturo on September 22, 2016, 05:03:35 AM
I just stopped going to Church and nobody really bothers me about it. My Uncle Tim, and Dad were the only ones who said I should go back but those days are behind me. My Aunt Debbie, who goes to Church, said she doesn't mind if I don't go. Which really I wish I had more people to talk about atheism with. Even among my cousins who I grew up with, I don't speak about it with them at all. So it's kind of why I'm here with you fine people.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Recusant on September 22, 2016, 11:17:39 AM
Happy to have you here, man.  :smokin cool:
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: No one on September 22, 2016, 02:33:38 PM
I just stopped going to Church and nobody really bothers me about it. My Uncle Tim, and Dad were the only ones who said I should go back but those days are behind me. My Aunt Debbie, who goes to Church, said she doesn't mind if I don't go. Which really I wish I had more people to talk about atheism with. Even among my cousins who I grew up with, I don't speak about it with them at all. So it's kind of why I'm here with you fine people.

Please, don't consider me fine, or, a people!
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Waski_the_Squirrel on September 25, 2016, 08:36:25 PM
Interestingly, my parents and I independently arrived at atheism at about the same time. They're in Pennsylvania and I'm in North Dakota, so we don't see each other often. Last summer when we visited, we all had something to tell each other, and we were all relieved at how easily it went compared to what we had imagined. Most people don't get that lucky!
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Arturo on September 26, 2016, 06:15:03 AM
I just stopped going to Church and nobody really bothers me about it. My Uncle Tim, and Dad were the only ones who said I should go back but those days are behind me. My Aunt Debbie, who goes to Church, said she doesn't mind if I don't go. Which really I wish I had more people to talk about atheism with. Even among my cousins who I grew up with, I don't speak about it with them at all. So it's kind of why I'm here with you fine people.

Please, don't consider me fine, or, a people!

You're just "a frood who really knows where their towel is"
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: existentialcrisis on December 09, 2016, 03:36:12 PM
How about this:

"Ok people, gather around. I am now an atheist, I don't believe in your gods or goblins anymore until you show me evidence. I am still the same person, compassionate and caring, but I am tired of everyone superstitious nonsense. If you want to do any good for society you will join me in seeking evidence before superstition and encourage scientific discovery and progress. End of topic, have a nice day."

Walk away like a boss.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Arturo on December 09, 2016, 06:17:00 PM
How about this:

"Ok people, gather around. I am now an atheist, I don't believe in your gods or goblins anymore until you show me evidence. I am still the same person, compassionate and caring, but I am tired of everyone superstitious nonsense. If you want to do any good for society you will join me in seeking evidence before superstition and encourage scientific discovery and progress. End of topic, have a nice day."

Walk away like a boss.

Good answer
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Tank on December 09, 2016, 06:52:01 PM
How about this:

"Ok people, gather around. I am now an atheist, I don't believe in your gods or goblins anymore until you show me evidence. I am still the same person, compassionate and caring, but I am tired of everyone superstitious nonsense. If you want to do any good for society you will join me in seeking evidence before superstition and encourage scientific discovery and progress. End of topic, have a nice day."

Walk away like a boss.
Not likely to work.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Tom62 on December 09, 2016, 07:20:54 PM
How about this:

"Ok people, gather around. I am now an atheist, I don't believe in your gods or goblins anymore until you show me evidence. I am still the same person, compassionate and caring, but I am tired of everyone superstitious nonsense. If you want to do any good for society you will join me in seeking evidence before superstition and encourage scientific discovery and progress. End of topic, have a nice day."

Walk away like a boss.
Not likely to work.

You are right, not likely to work.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Pasta Chick on December 09, 2016, 08:08:27 PM
I think a direct approach could work for some families, but not within the context of this topic.

If one is planning to take a direct approach, I would recommend not referring to beliefs as "nonsense" and implying that believers are not doing good works for society.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: existentialcrisis on December 09, 2016, 08:18:03 PM
How about this:

"Ok people, gather around. I am now an atheist, I don't believe in your gods or goblins anymore until you show me evidence. I am still the same person, compassionate and caring, but I am tired of everyone superstitious nonsense. If you want to do any good for society you will join me in seeking evidence before superstition and encourage scientific discovery and progress. End of topic, have a nice day."

Walk away like a boss.
Not likely to work.

You are right, not likely to work.

Here is why I think it will work. You show confidence yet open to door by offering to work together to find solutions. It's like dealing with children:they will see you are successful and upbeat without the need for superstition in your life. This happened to me, others came to me secretly and said help me, I wish I could lose that superstition too!!! I recommend to them to read Richard Dawkin's book called the God Delusion.

Now most are so brainwashed they may fight back. If they try to re-open it, shut it closed. None of their business what you believe. If they persist hit them with the absurdity of their beliefs (40 days of rain to flood the earth, God needs the devil and uses him as a scapegoat so he can put you in hell, evolution is a fact, etc...).

Then for a second time walk away like a boss.

Rinse and repeat.

Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Tank on December 10, 2016, 05:50:30 AM
How about this:

"Ok people, gather around. I am now an atheist, I don't believe in your gods or goblins anymore until you show me evidence. I am still the same person, compassionate and caring, but I am tired of everyone superstitious nonsense. If you want to do any good for society you will join me in seeking evidence before superstition and encourage scientific discovery and progress. End of topic, have a nice day."

Walk away like a boss.
Not likely to work.

You are right, not likely to work.

Here is why I think it will work. You show confidence yet open to door by offering to work together to find solutions. It's like dealing with children:they will see you are successful and upbeat without the need for superstition in your life. This happened to me, others came to me secretly and said help me, I wish I could lose that superstition too!!! I recommend to them to read Richard Dawkin's book called the God Delusion.

Now most are so brainwashed they may fight back. If they try to re-open it, shut it closed. None of their business what you believe. If they persist hit them with the absurdity of their beliefs (40 days of rain to flood the earth, God needs the devil and uses him as a scapegoat so he can put you in hell, evolution is a fact, etc...).

Then for a second time walk away like a boss.

Rinse and repeat.

So what if the family kick the person out on the street and take away their college fund, shun them and attempt t destroy their lives? This thread regards people in that situation. Please bear this in mind when making suggestions about how to deal with real family situations. One can escalate more easily than retract. Once an interlocutor is considered 'enemy' they are in a difficult situation. The end game may be 'fuck you I'm an atheist' but that isn't a good place to start a negotiation.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Icarus on December 11, 2016, 12:58:59 AM
I do not believe that we should have to apologize for our absence of spiritual belief. It does not make a rats ass, what I/we believe. Reality is that we are social outcasts in the minds of  more than half of all the humans on earth.

I am among those fortunate enough to be in a position where I can give the middle finger to any or all those  who would condemn me to the fires of hell. I am free to do as EC says; walk away like a boss.  At a much earlier point in my life I was dependent on others to provide a place to sleep, Foster homes as a kid.  I was a non believer then but I was obliged not to advertise my blasphemous trains of thought.  So it can be said that..... circumstances alter cases.  One had best not just say fuck'em unless they are entirely self sufficient.

 
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: existentialcrisis on December 13, 2016, 03:38:40 PM
How about this:

"Ok people, gather around. I am now an atheist, I don't believe in your gods or goblins anymore until you show me evidence. I am still the same person, compassionate and caring, but I am tired of everyone superstitious nonsense. If you want to do any good for society you will join me in seeking evidence before superstition and encourage scientific discovery and progress. End of topic, have a nice day."

Walk away like a boss.
Not likely to work.

You are right, not likely to work.

Here is why I think it will work. You show confidence yet open to door by offering to work together to find solutions. It's like dealing with children:they will see you are successful and upbeat without the need for superstition in your life. This happened to me, others came to me secretly and said help me, I wish I could lose that superstition too!!! I recommend to them to read Richard Dawkin's book called the God Delusion.

Now most are so brainwashed they may fight back. If they try to re-open it, shut it closed. None of their business what you believe. If they persist hit them with the absurdity of their beliefs (40 days of rain to flood the earth, God needs the devil and uses him as a scapegoat so he can put you in hell, evolution is a fact, etc...).

Then for a second time walk away like a boss.

Rinse and repeat.

So what if the family kick the person out on the street and take away their college fund, shun them and attempt t destroy their lives? This thread regards people in that situation. Please bear this in mind when making suggestions about how to deal with real family situations. One can escalate more easily than retract. Once an interlocutor is considered 'enemy' they are in a difficult situation. The end game may be 'fuck you I'm an atheist' but that isn't a good place to start a negotiation.

I agree with you, clearly one has to know their situation to determine how true they can be to themselves. I suggest using common sense in this matter. It is a very sensitive topic for some people who need to use God as a coping mechanism. If you live in a situation where your existence is in danger for not believing the same ideas as your providers, then lay low. If you can afford to tell them you don't believe, then you can do it! Or do like most people and say nothing at all! It's no one's business. If people force you to go to church and they ask you do you believe in an invisible cosmic puppet master...just really "sure..what ever". Determine your level of confrontation.

At the time I could afford to point out the inconsistencies in religion to my providers, so my situation is lucky. I started by saying..."if the end result is eternity in hell, don't you think it would be fair for the creator to provide more compelling evidence before hand?" The door opened from there to argue with my cousins about the nonsense of their ancient beliefs. We still bicker today at the dinner table....lol. You will NEVER change their minds. Don't waste your time.

But take care of your well-being first. I hope one day in the future, by 2020, facts will triumph over superstition. But humans run by emotion more than logic.

I suggest anyone get atheist support: read Richard Dawkins, watch youtube videos, this forum is amazing place to start.

In the end do what ever makes you happy.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Unsapien on March 10, 2019, 09:31:15 AM
I see this thread was bumped a couple of times so hopefully I won't get in trouble for necro posting.

My advise, test the waters.

My wife knew I wasn't a Christian when we got married but, I was still "searching". She was of the type that "everybody knows that god is real in their hearts...yada yada yada…"

So I brought up atheism in the news, and current events, etc...

Just talking generally about what she thought about it, when the reaction I got was meh... I felt I could come out fully.

Although the kids still HAD to go to catholic school.  :(

All I asked is that they not be taught that they'll burn in hell if they don't believe, without that threat they could see the bullshit writing on the wall without me needing to really say anything.
Title: Re: How to tell your family you are an atheist.
Post by: Tank on March 10, 2019, 10:39:44 AM
I see this thread was bumped a couple of times so hopefully I won't get in trouble for necro posting.

My advise, test the waters.

My wife knew I wasn't a Christian when we got married but, I was still "searching". She was of the type that "everybody knows that god is real in their hearts...yada yada yada…"

So I brought up atheism in the news, and current events, etc...

Just talking generally about what she thought about it, when the reaction I got was meh... I felt I could come out fully.

Although the kids still HAD to go to catholic school.  :(

All I asked is that they not be taught that they'll burn in hell if they don't believe, without that threat they could see the bullshit writing on the wall without me needing to really say anything.

Very sound advice.