Thursday night my mother-in-law came over for a while and right before she left Jesster decided to tell her that he is an atheist. This doesnt bother me in the least infact I am proud of him. She has known about my lack of belief for a while now and I am sure she will blame me eventually for corrupting her son but oh well.
After a few moments of shock she asked the one question I hate hearing. Have you ever read the bible? When he said he had I asked her if she had ever read the bible and she said no. This really didn't surprise me to much since I believe that if more people would read it less people would believe it. I suggested that she read the bible cover to cover before she tried to change our minds. But i'm getting away from the point of my post.
After a few more moments of argument and fear she asked about the kids. We told her that we plan on raising them without religion but answering any questions they may have about it and letting them decide when they reach an age where they can make an informed choice on what to believe.Then she asked if she could take them to church ( she hasn't been in years but would go again if I would let her take the kids). I said no that they are to young to understand. Not long after this she left but I am sure we will hear more on the subject.
My questions are these, was I wrong and what would you have done?
My coming out was simple and dispassionate.
Paraphrased: "I don't believe it's reasonable to believe in the supernatural, but so long as you don't hurt others or yourself I don't care if you do."
I got all the questions, which of course escalated from innocent questions like "How long?" to more aggressive and innapropriate questions like "Do you still feel love?" I answered them all patiently and completely. Most people I told just accepted it eventually, knowing me to be a master of debate *struts*, but a few did press the issue. My former pastor (not my father) was convinced that it was a part of individuation from my parents as a part of the process of growing up (I'm paraphrasing that, of course). I politely explained that I'd been an atheist since I was 14, possibly younger. He was pretty pissed.
Quote from: "Tricky_Niki"My questions are these, was I wrong and what would you have done?
I think you handled the matter just fine. Congratulations on coming out to the family and having the strength to teach your children to think for themselves.
Quote from: "Tricky_Niki"My questions are these, was I wrong and what would you have done?
No, you were not wrong and I would have done just what you did. You were right on.
We answer questions with our son (7 years old) and we read the bible and other mythologies with him. He has seen how Greek and Roman mythology is similar to the bible. He also asked is Jesus was a zombie.
She has no right to lecture you if she hasn't read the bible cover to cover. I agree that if more people would read it WITH AN OPEN MIND, not the faith-clouded mind they read it with, they'd see how ludicrous it is. I think if she does read it, it won't change her mind. She sounds like my mom... smart enough to acknowledge that some of it makes no sense, but faithful enough to believe anyway.
Don't worry... you've done a good job. Just stick to your guns and don't let those children go with her UNLESS you go too. That way, you can do damage control when you get home because you know exactly what they were told.
My mom is still grappling with my non-belief. She just gave me two books for me to read. I think one might be called Indisputable Evidence. I read the introduction and couldn't get any further. It was published in 1985 and it talked about the religion of 'Red China,' and the failure of their 'Communist belief system.' My jaw dropped in incredulity.
I would like to give her a book like Atheist Universe. But she told me not long ago that if God didn't exist then for her she would feel like she wouldn't have a reason to go on. She's a very lonely woman, and when she said this she came close to tears. So I don't think Atheist Universe will help her.
She asked me the other day if I believed in love, and if so how could I prove that love exists. So if I believed in love why couldn't I believe in God. I heard that argument in high school youth group and I'm still trying to understand the logic, as if the belief in a human emotion or whatever you want to call love has anything to do with whether God exists or not.
I've already told my move that my husband and I don't believe and she is in denial or something....apparetly the seed has been planted (or some other bs) and she believes I'll be a chrisitan again eventually. She will likely try to indoctrinate our future children and I guess we'll have to cross that bridge as we get there. What's funny is that she agrees with me with I point out most issues with christian belef....i think that maybe she believes in a self projected god rather than the christian one...we can talk for hours about christianity without disagreeing...very strange yet I'm also good at staying on topics that avoid turmoil.
What I think I would do....well, I'm partially considering the possibilty of attending a Unitarian Univeralist church when I have kids so that they will be exposed to various religious beliefs in addition to understanding why some people do not believe. Hubby and I will have to discuss this later of course. I think telling her you want them to decide for themselves was a good call. if they are going to learn about christianity through church then it would be only fair to your kids to also take them to mosques, synogaugues and various other religious gatherings.
And I have an older brother who is still trying to "re-save" my soul or something. He's shocked that I don't go to mass. He's praying for me constantly and telling my wife to work on me.
Called my house the other night to tell her a show was on the "catholic" channel about some guy who came back to the church after being an atheist. My brother had already given me a copy of this douchebag's book, "The Journey Home", and I guess felt that wasn't enough. He's such a dork. My sister in law is even worse. I told her to just grow up.
Kudos to anyone who is honest with his/her loved ones about atheism. I told my mother years ago & she pretty much just ignores it & tells me she'll pray for me sometimes. She knows not to push the subject after I hung up on her once when she was telling me I wouldn't go to heaven. WTF ever.
Boy, did we get it again at Xmas! My wife quit attending church when she went to college at 18. I was a Baptist preacher for 15 years. We finally had enough of sitting through stupid sermons by stupid people and decided that we wouldn't do it any more. So about 18 months ago, Bob stops the boat on the lake and they have a talk with us and blame me for corrupting their daughter. Then they have another go about a year ago.
Sunday night before Xmas, we are having our usual political discussion and Bob decides that I have "come into my house and disrespected me!" over something decidedly trivial. It was really about church. We left as soon as we could in the morning. We won't go back on a Sunday or Church holiday. Sad, really.
Woo. I've never had to 'come out' so to speak, since I was raised as an atheist. I only found minor problems with that when I went to an American school and even that wasn't too bad (I got in trouble for punching a couple of people in self defence and that was it). Me, my mother, her brother, their parents and my cousins (all of them atheists) are vastly marginalised and semi-disowned by the rest of the family. The rest are a large, excessively right-wing, very wealthy, deeply religious and tight-nit bunch of frankly pure evil Norwegian psychos - a lot of them are the sort of people who criticize the Nazis for not being totalitarian enough. Seriously. So our little gang, the people I consider to be my real family, are perfectly content to show off our Godless, nigger-loving, working-class, druggie, hippie, bastard antics to the world because most of these evangelicals are nothing compared to the neurotic 'Christiansens' and we have each other for support.
I think I'm lucky with my in-laws - both very supportive of us even through all the problems of being an unconventional family! Mother-in-law was brought up by a very strict Baptist family and rebelled, never really forgave her father for the coldness of her upbringing, she won't discuss religion now. Father-in-law was an occasional half-hearted attender but got scared off many years ago when the charismatics took over the village church, he considers them freaks. So we can rely on them being around on a Sunday morning and we can all take the dogs for a walk together
Richard Dawkins equates bringing up children in a religious environment to child abuse...I to a certain extant agree,but as a parent I am also constrained by the fact that I want my children to live successful,productive,happy lives and it seems that one option that many parents choose is to force their children into some degree of social and religious conformity.In many minds atheism equals satanism,equals totally abnormal,equals we don't want you to be a part of our society...If one of the up and coming Presidential candidates got up and said,"I am an Atheist!",how many votes would that candidate get?So even though I tell my children that they should make up their own minds as to what they believe,and try to provide them with as much information as possible so that they can make informed decisions,I am very aware of the fact that I am part of a society that would allow the fascist right wing religious gestapo to gain power if there ever were a collapse of the economy,something that global warming could very easily provide...
On the Dawkins thing, I recall he stated that he would NEVER call a child religous or that he/she belongs to a religion. I dont know about the abuse thing---that seems a little extreme. But yeah and that children should never be reffered to in that way in general. Somethin along those lines anyhow...
For of course the simple fact that they have no way of knowing better.
We went to my mom's house for Christmas... dad died 2.5 years ago so we vowed we'd go to her house for Christmas every year so she wouldn't be alone. (Formerly, we'd do Thanksgiving with them but Christmas at our house because as a church musician, Mom is at the church starting Christmas Eve at 4 p.m. through 2 a.m.... midmight mass... and then again on Christmas day from 7 a.m. until well after noon.O
Well, we've told her repeatedly every year for 4 years now that we're atheists whenever it has come up and she asks. I don't rub her nose it in but I don't censor myself... like if I've read something funny here or on the Atheist Moms list I'm on, I'll reference "the atheist forum" or "the atheist mom's list."
Well... this year, I guess she'd had enough because she asked right out, "Why do you HAVE to be an atheist!?!" very loudly. I said, "Because I am. I'm still the same person I was before... just now, you have a word for how I believe."
She came back with, "Why can't you just be agnostic... why do you have to use that hateful word, "atheist"?" Ugh. Truthfully, technically, aren't we ALL agnostics? No one can prove one way or the other.
But I'm done wasting my time trying to prove that which cannot be proven. If and when ANY evidence presents itself, I'll reconsider. She brought up the whole "that's why it's called faith" crap.
I just want her to accept me for me. That's all I've EVER wanted from her.
This was all at the beginning of our visit. Christmas Eve morning, she asked me if I'd go with her to church. I hesitated then said no. She asked why... I said because I just can't. She was hurt and didn't say anything else all day. The remainder of our visit, an entire WEEK, was strained and unpleasant. Coupled with a spoiled son who got way too much stuff, it was hell for me.
I thought it quite rude of her to ask me to go with her to church. I'd NEVER invite her to go to my atheist meetup or to even join my atheist mom's mailing list... that would be rude to her as a believer. Yet I say I don't want to go to church and I'm intolerant. Then to hold it against me for an entire freaking week.
Add to that... because of her church stuff, we had to keep our 7 year old son occupied until after 1:00 PM!!! on Christmas day before opening his gifts. If I'd known that, we would have opened them on Christmas Eve (or, what the hell, on Solstice) rather than have to pacify him for 6 hours while we just sit there and stare at the gifts (with a small house, we had to sit in the room where the gifts were... either that or the bedroom).
Do I sound angry? I'm not really angry... I'm resigned to the fact that my mother has never accepted me for who I am and she never will. I had hoped that by the time I was 44, we'd be passed this.
Ugh. Now I have to face having told her we'd spend a month at her house this summer... me and the kid. Without my husband there to tell me how wrong she is and to support me, it will be the kid and grandma against me and I'll lose my mind.
Maybe you could come up with some sort of month long super bug that you or your son could come down with that will dissapear the day after you should be home?
I did that once for a different reason but it worked on my mother. Kept her from visiting for an entire summer.
tacoma_kyle,I am fairly sure that Dawkins said this on some UK tv documentary that I downloaded...
rlrose328,I really don't like christmas,I went with my two children to the family gathering,but next year I am thinking of writing to them and telling them that I have been abducted by Aliens...
Quote from: "rlrose"I thought it quite rude of her to ask me to go with her to church. I'd NEVER invite her to go to my atheist meetup or to even join my atheist mom's mailing list
Yeah - why does nobody get that? I guess its 'cause they feel so strongly that going to church is "the right thing to do"....
Hmm yes. Christians have more motive for that kind of thing because 'if you aren't saved your soul will burn in Hell' and so forth. So if it's a loved one especially, they're going to be concerned. To an atheist it doesn't matter whether you're Christian or not; everyone's going to be the same when they're dead. Probably why we have a much more live and let live outlook, I think.
I think you did the best thing you could....you were honest and she has to respect that. One thing I have learned is that parents will always try and 'save' the grandkids. You maybe a lost cause, but there is always hope for the grandkids!