I've noticed that a large number of you were religious at some point at your life, but at some point saw the light (or lack of it) and decided that no just and loving God presides over this wicked world (excuse my gloominess lol). I declared myself an Atheist around April 2010, but have not yet come out to my family and most of my friends. This is not out of fear but the embarassing fact that I still live at home and am slightly dependent on my parents. However, that will no longer be the case come this December and as a result I plan to make my confession around this time. I would like you all to share your stories of coming out to your family about abandoning your belief in fairies, umm... I mean God and turning to reason. Have you been rejected by former friends and/or family members just because you don't share their beliefs?
Thanks for taking the time to read, I'm looking forward to your replies. :)
Albert L. Terry, III
I never made a formal announcement of my being an Atheist. I don't even know exactly when I first mentioned it to my family but it was many years ago. When religion came up I just simply stated that I didn't believe in it. No one has ever been hostile towards me because of my lack of belief except maybe on one occasion by a fellow member at a social club. Most of my family knows I'm an Atheist but only a few friends and acquaintances. It's not that I ever hide it or feel ashamed of it. It's just that I don't feel a need to bring it up unless there is a reason like attending a religious event or praying. The reaction I get is usually one of bewilderment or disbelief since the consensus is that all blacks are religious. I can understand why they feel that way since I'm 56 years old, been an Atheist over 30 years, and I don’t personally know any other admittedly black Atheist. Even though all of my family members proclaim a belief in God, only a handful of them are what I would consider highly religious. Most of them don't regularly attend church. So maybe that is why I don't usually get much flack from my family. I don't know how deeply your family is involved with religion but that could make the difference on how they react when you break the news. Good luck.
Thanks, I don't talk much but I myself have had to resist the urge to just yell out "Stop preaching to me about blessings! There are no blessings! There is no God!" But I manage to hold it in.
I applaud your parents for being humble enough to ask questions instead of making accusations. My parents' pride and overconfidence in their own intelligence will likely prevent that from happening in my case. Hell, when I got my first tattoo at 18 my mother went on this rant about how I wasn't listening when my pastor told me about defiling my body (which I don't remember him saying... likely because he never did so); yet she had never heard the man preach. Luckily I got the satisfaction of shutting her up when my pastor did say "I don't think it'll send you to Hell or nothing".
Considering the type of person my mother is, there is quite a possibility of us never talking again (or at least not for a few years) after this December. My father's reaction is harder to predict, though I figure he'll try to hit me... didn't work so well for him last time. >:)
Geez, that's a horrible thing to say. But you get my point. :)
I never made an official announcement either. I've never really been that close to most of my family, although my mother and I were close for a while but we aren't anymore. My agnosticism is only part of the reason. I basically informed my mother during one of our conversations in which she brought up the Bible, and I told her I didn't believe in it. I had already come out to my mom about being gay several years before that, so I think she had already made some kind of peace with what she sees as my slippery slope to hell. My sister recently became a devout Christian (she has always "believed" but I think she just became serious about it within the past few years). At that time, she started sending me all kinds of religious emails, and I kindly asked her to stop sending them to me because I wasn't a Christian. She did stop, but not before telling me that she loves me and God loves me too.
Honestly, I felt more rejection over being gay than I have over not believing. However, I have found that the stronger I have become in my own non-belief, the more difficult it is for me to make new friends. I guess it's harder to make friends as one gets older anyway. But so many people assume that all black folks are religious, and when they find out you're not, some seem to not even know how to process it. Interestingly enough, I have found that my tolerance for religious babble has become very low. For example, I find myself noticing how many people call damn near everything a "blessing," or how their response to any obstacle is "God will make a way." Things like that irritate me to no end, and I find myself distancing myself from more and more people, so in a sense I am rejecting others instead of the other way around. I realize that's my own issue, and if I want to be accepted in my non-belief I have to accept them in their belief. But still, if I hear "blessed and highly favored" one more time....
Wow it's pretty shocking to hear that about being more rejected for your sexual orientation than your lack of belief in fairi... umm God. But I agree with you on every point you made about blessings and whatnot.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend not long ago about how "faith is nothing without works". She attests her good grades to her praying before tests as well as to her studying. So I say to her, "Well you wouldn't get the A without studying right? You admit that you can't rely on faith alone. So what makes you think your faith plays a factor in your success? I've made As in several classes without begging for a good grade." The awkward silence that followed was very comforting.
I announced it to a few friends and family. Being a former minister I thought I owed an explanation to those closet around me. I didn't lose any friends and family still talks to me. I'm still invited to parties and other functions. So all in all i didn't lose much.
Everyone's family and social structure is so different so consider carefully before coming out. I had to think long and hard about the worst possible outcomes; people turning their back, divorce and other possibilities before opening my mouth. Think everything through carefully and then enjoy freedom of thought.
Former minister? Wow, congratulations for making it out of there. Have you read "Godless" by Dan Barker? You should definitely pick that up. Barker was a fundamentalist Pentecostal minister until, around age 30, he started to open up and read newspapers and actual books instead of just the Bible. He went from devout believer to full fledged Atheist in about 4 years.
A question related to that book: Did you continue to preach after becoming an Atheist because you feared coming out right away?