Help coming out to people whose faith makes them so happy they cry

I've delayed coming out completely, not because I fear facing people's anger, judgment, or rejection. My big fear is treading on people's emotional attachment to their invisible being! Many of my friends seem to be constantly bringing up some story of God's recent answer to prayer, or his goodness, or how forgiven they feel, or how happy they are in Christ. Then of course, I see the tears of gratitude well up in their eyes! Ugh. How do I follow that, even on a later day, with "Oh, by the way, I've realized we are all just deluding ourselves." It seems similar to kicking a puppy. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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It seems similar to kicking a puppy. 

There are times when that is true. However, there are many other times when it's like beating back a snarling dog with hydrophobia. I'm completely open about my atheism. I've found that those Xtians who know me, now leave out the "I'm so blessed," or "I'll keep you in my prayers," nonsense. I think the only way you're going to avoid this is by announcing you're an atheist. And then, maintaining as much politeness as the situation calls for, don't back down. And if it calls for being rude, so be it. But, don't back down. My personal approach is one of , "Bully for you. Whatever floats your boat. But, leave me the hell out of it."

Then again, the older I get, the less tolerant of ignorance I have.

Delusional people get very ridiculous! On my job last spring I'm making rounds and stop by the hotel. The clerk and I are in conversation about something and I'm trying to make my point. "Take Muslims, for example," I said. At that moment a housekeeper came into the room and she seemed very angry. "It's not nice to talk about people's religion," she said. She just glared at me and had no idea what we were discussing at all. My phrase was an example.

It's not nice to talk about people's religion! The bullshit, it isn't! I'm like Patton Oswalt. Oh, that's the crazy shit that you believe. That's totally retarded! You and your religion are batshit crazy! I've never heard a more ridiculous thing in my entire life!

Don't tell me that it's not nice to talk about religion.

Don't tell me that it's not nice to talk about religion.

Amazing how many people will insist on staying in the kitchen, yet continue to complain about the heat!  I'm reminded of one of the answers to the Center For Inquiry's Blasphemy Contest:

The reason religious beliefs need protection from ridicule is that they are ridiculous.
-- Michael Nugent

As to the whole "kicking a puppy" issue:

If the puppy were real, it would be one thing.  As it is, you nailed it with your "we [they, actually] are all just deluding [them]selves."  The problem comes with the defense mechanisms the person and the religious community they are involved in.  It's less about kicking a puppy than it is disabusing someone of an extreme case of Stockholm Syndrome.

The question of whether to come out or not, whether to these people or anyone else, I will insist remains both personal and situational.  You may be able to stave off at least SOME people by declaring discussions about politics and religion to be "off limits," but that strategy is liable to be a short-term solution at best.

Remember in all this, though, that the primary person you need to please is YOU.

Thanks, Loren. I do worry too much about other people, but part of it is for my own benefit. I live in a sea of evangelical Christians (both friends and family) and this will not change soon. Being the only one around to break out of the spell is a very awkward position to be in. Beyond not wanting to hurt them, I need to figure out how to sustain working relationships.

I like your Stockholm Syndrome analogy.

Indeed, "Stockholm Syndrome" often comes to mind when I think about why people bother with religion!!

I have a co-worker who often mentions her affiliation with the church. One day, she was talking about how she and her then-BF (now husband) were pregnant out of wedlock, and how they went to the pastor and how he basically excused them.

I said, "What do you need the pastor for?!" She and a couple of other people seemed a little stunned by my question. "Who is the pastor to tell you how to live your life?? You don't need his permission; you guys did FINE without him!" (they since got married and had more kids.)

I then ranted a bit about the bible, and how back when it was written, she would've been stoned to death, so how could the pastor even excuse her? "The bible even says you should stone your kids if they're disobedient," and with that they were incredulous. "No, I'm serious, I'll send you the quote...."

In direct violation of official company protocol, I sent her and a couple of others the quote talking about stoning the wayward son. But if I ever get called on the carpet for that one, I can honestly say they asked me about it. I wasn't trying to preach or insult, it was merely showing them a quote.

That's the beauty of the bible, and why I wish John didn't get rid of the one we received as a wedding gift: You can use it against itself!! Luckily there's plenty of internet references.

On another website, I posted about becoming an atheist preacher; how important it would be to TRULY save people from themselves, and the Jehovah's Witnesses who come around. They don't believe in blood transfusions or surgery, for example, so to deconvert them would indeed be saving lives!

Of course, a spirited discussion ensued, and one woman claimed that god helped her through some extremely horrible times in her life. She "knew" that "God" was there for her the whole time.

I told her, "YOU get ALL the credit for how you survived all that! This 'God' was merely a way to meditate on positive things, to read stuff that gave you strength. YOU were very courageous and strong that entire time!"

She responded saying that she took offense at that, and I think she complained to the moderators and got the discussion removed completely.

I was like, nice. She posted in my thread about being an atheist preacher who would save the religious from their delusions, and I gave her credit for going above and beyond a pretend omnipotent entity. She was offended by that.

I'm baffled by that one, though her insistence on having the thread taken down makes me think she was too embarrassed to be publicly "outed" so to speak. I'M the one who's offended!! I made a lot of good arguments and passionate statements there. In fact, I just may write to the moderators (though they do seem to be sympathetic to the atheists, allowing these discussions to happen freely, with minimal intervention.)

Normally, when people talk about their god in the context of how "He" helps them out, I don't say anything. In this case, though, she posted in the wrong thread if she was expecting pats on the back and "oh yes indeed your god is obviously real" type feedback. 

I told her, "YOU get ALL the credit for how you survived all that! This 'God' was merely a way to meditate on positive things, to read stuff that gave you strength. YOU were very courageous and strong that entire time!"

In a Socratic mode, you might say "Perhaps it was actually your strength that got you through that. What makes you think it was something outside you?"
Perhaps that would be less likely to offend than making statements. 

That, Luara, is something I can file away for future use. I often tell my theist friend that she gives her god credit for everything but the way you put it is much nicer.

I need to figure out how to sustain working relationships.

That's an important point. Maybe, Socratizing them until they go quiet about religion, would work :)

If the puppy were real, it would be one thing.

Their perceived benefits from religion, their attachments to religious people, are quite real. That's the puppy.   In defense of kicking it, one could say that "defending" people from truth or from thinking shows disrespect for them.  And that we live in a real world and being out of touch with reality is living less. 

Some people go through a very tough time when they give up religion.

Good insight, Luara.

"Their perceived benefits from religion, their attachments to religious people, are quite real. That's the puppy."

Even though their beliefs are not based on anything real,  the psychological benefits of "feeling God's love" and never feeling alone, and the close understanding and "fellowship" with other people are very real. I know because when I finally admitted to myself that my faith had no basis, besides having my worldview rocked, I faced the loss of all the benefits too. It was extremely traumatic. 

"In defense of kicking it, one could say that "defending" people from truth or from thinking shows disrespect for them."

This is encouraging to me. I've been hesitant to open that can of worms for people, because my believing friends and family now seem childlike to me. I hate to even make them question their warm delusion. But that is disrespectful. They are rational, thinking adults in every other way, and should be treated as such.

"...we live in a real world and being out of touch with reality is living less."

Agreed!

By the way, thanks so much to everyone who has responded up till now to my original question. You've all been such a great help already. I look forward to more insights and wisdom from you all!

I'm a new AN member - this has been a great way to start off.

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