Hey! I was just thinking about some other posts and I started to wonder how others felt about coming out as a nontheist? For me, I was always worried about judgement through elementary and middle school. I got really worried one day when I overheard a friend of mine in my 4th grade class say that her parents said that anyone who doesn't believe in god goes to hell.... Now, I didn't believe in hell at the time and I still don't, but since she believed it, it kinda felt like a punch in the gut. I told myself that I wouldn't tell anyone and I would remain quite and just say that my family never had time for church as an explanation for why I didn't know much about it.... Eventually, in 7th grade, I admitted I was atheist.... My social studies teacher was doing a unit on religion (not preaching it by the way!) and we were supposed to choose a religion and write a paper and make a presentation about it. I asked if I could do atheism to show that not all people are religious and he said yes. Then, me and another classmate sort of partnered up in our presentation to compare religion vs. nonreligion. In the presentation I was soooooo nervous! But I got a few positive and a few negative remarks. Now, as a senior in high school, most people know I'm not religious and usually respect that, however much they disagree... But most of the other people I know who are agnostic, or atheist, or nontheist in another way didn't grow up with those beliefs and only recently switched when they were in high school. So, I'm asking if anyone else has any stories to add... positive or not. Maybe even give advice to those who haven't told their families and friends yet?
I just turned 70 years old, once studied for the ministry as a young man, then lived most of my life "lost in sin" with a burden of guilt hanging around my neck like a chain. Along about 2010 or so it came to me. This is all made up nonsense and there is no proof of gods of any kind. Today I have no regrets or guilt at all, and it's hard to be afraid of that which does not exist. I finally have that freedom that religion offers you when it enslaves you instead. For those who think I "am angry with god" for some reason, I have no more anger at an invisible man in the sky than I do at the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.
I recently visited my young African wife whom I have not seen in a year and a half. She wants to know "how we got here" if there is no god? My stepfather says if I am correct it means he "has no future." People have the most ignorant questions about god belief, pro or con. Godmyth is a reasonable coinage here as god belief is not a part of objective reality. It's nonsense that is all made up and they change it around constantly with pre-set assumptions called apologetics and teach this in colleges.
It's not hard to get the right answer when you started with a loaded question. People will tell you that you do not have the answers. This is true and they tell me that all the time. I admit it is OK not to know. I can honestly tell you that "I do not know." I can also just as easily tell you that religious people do not know either. They just keep on making it up.
Unmasking religion is a study that is similar to the unmasking of the Wizard of Oz. Once you have seen behind the curtain it is hard to ever believe in the Wizard again. Good luck to you.
I have not come out, and I honestly have no intention of coming out (to my family). I assume people will learn one day, my real friends already know. My family will too when I make a youtube video and a nosey stalkerish cousin finds it. She likes to periodically stalk family for "sinful dirty laundry" to make public to the rest of the family. I already had to deal with that once when my ex wife was questioning her sexuality and my cousin found an online dating profile. When that does happen however I have no real intention of talking about it with them. My little brother wen't through this already and its simply not worth it. If they want to talk I'll talk, just not about religion.
I specifically do not want them to become Atheists, their identity is so wrapped up in religion it would destroy them to take away that comfort blanket, I could see some of them easily committing suicide if they came to the realization there is no god. Most likely they would just double down and go more extreme. If you are wondering why I would think/feel this way look into the Independent Free Baptist, or just look at Westboro Baptist Church. According to the world I was brought up in Westboro is the best church out there. A chilling thought.
If they began to question on their own I would help them but I do not want to challenge them, or force them. They are so hard lined and cultish they need to come to this place on their own terms. I have to accept they will likely cut all communication and ties with me one day.
Thankfully when my grandma had Alzheimer they pretended she didn't, there are countless examples of them living in a make believe world ignoring reality right in front of them (my mom has been showing indications of early onset Alzheimer), so when that time comes there's a fair chance if I play it cool they'll pretend nothing is wrong. After all nothing would change about me except there'd be some video's ect on the internet, and most of my family would never even look at youtube anyway.
As someone who doesn't come from the same family background since my family isn't very religious, I can't say I have the best advice for this. But, in my experience, it sucks holding in something that is YOU. Being agnostic is ME. I couldn't hide that for a lifetime. But just tread carefully. If they think it's not okay then maybe they just need time to wrap their heads around your lack of religion. But it's your call. You have friends that support you and that's one step in the right direction. Now it's time to decide where to go next.
@Allie, where to go next is as far from here (physically) as I can. Then I can be safe living openly true to myself.
I feel for you. It's got to be a difficult tapdance raising children in a counterbalance between the value of truth and the importance other people put on their superstitions. It's one of the tragedies of our era that the social retributions those other people are certain to exact if their superstitions are violated still have the power to constrain your parenting. The hope is that groups like ours here and many others are in the process of changing that.
Excellent question. I understand the feelings of being "worried about judgment." I had those feelings, too, and am pretty sure that most of us wanted approval from our peers. You asked that important question far younger than I.
It wasn't until I was 37 years old and faced formidable challenges that I began to realize that prayers did not get answered, and strength didn't just come because I had faith. When I did question, I was outraged because I realized that trying to please god didn't work for me and I looked around at others and found god didn't work very well for them, either. I was in a desperate situation of having three small children and trying to figure out how to survive family violence. I put my three kids in my car with our pets and some pillows and blankets and ran with anger fuelling our escape. My kids are in their early 50s now; I am now 80 years old and realize it was the only decision I could make given my reality.
After my rage had abated, I could think more rationally asking myself why I had stayed so long, why it was so hard to leave, and understanding what a healthy thing that rage was.
For several years, hearing, "God bless you!" and "I'll pray for you!" sent me into a passionate response, even if directed toward others. Just hearing the words cut me like a dull knife thrust into my stomach with a twist.
That is all over now. I know decent people believe in superhuman powers, and I do not share their beliefs. Well meaning people say stupid things, and I can pretty much just let it go. What I cannot do and I do not want to do is to let one of those stupid statements pass within my hearing. I make certain the people within hearing realize I do not believe there is power in blessings and prayers, and that I am an atheist. I use the word, atheist, deliberately.
Oh, some pretty dreadful things were said to me, about me, and some people played some dirty tricks on me. Someone spray painted my beautiful sand colored house with black paint with some filthy words. There were some obscene phone calls, as well as some shunning.
I developed a pretty tough skin; I just let the ignorant ones know their poor responses were proof that religion was not an instrument of peace, love, and forgiveness, but evidence of hate-mongering.
I haven't had any problems in years. Many of those who were the cruelest have become my advocates.
You will have some emotional pain and maybe even physical challenges ahead of you. So? What else is new? Life can be very hard and cruel. Just do not forget, you have a brain, and you have every right to use it. You can hear and know when something is unhealthy or a lie. You have eyes and can see what hate does to people. You have a voice, and it is important that you say, out loud, what you think, want, and need. You have a heart that can feel the sorrow in the world and can be a source of strength for others. You have guts, and that courage will carry you into adulthood and old age when you can stand tall, with your shoulders strong, your back straight, and your feet planted firmly on the ground able and willing to take on the challenges that life will bring you.
I respect your question and your journey. Remember to have some fun and smell some daisies along the way.
Joan, if people are worried about judgement we have to look very strongly at ideas of biblical judgement. If it is to be done before a white throne and in real time we find that judgement will take at least as long as mankind has been around, starting with a judgement senario and going backwards in time. That would take a very, very long time indeed because this has to be done with every act of the individual known and brought to the surface. It would be sort of like a long and bad movie.
Believers do not see this however. They answer back that we have all eternity. With the rate of events I'm describing it might take that long to get to heaven or hell. Of course, if you are a young earth creationist it might happen in 6,000 years or so.
Believers are all ate up.