How do I make it clear to my family that I'm an atheist?

Three years ago I realized that I didn't really believe in everything that's said in the bible (well, mostly I was just confused), so I started going to church with one of my friends. See, I'd voiced my concerns to said friend and she told me that her preacher would clear it all up for me. After my sixth time going I noticed I was more confused than I was before so I asked the preacher about it and instead of really answering he began quoting psalms and kept saying, "The bible was written by God so it is the most accurate book ever written". Frustrated, I dropped church and starting researching the bible and a few other religions on my own, which was really getting me nowhere, intill my dad started talking about religion on a car ride to my grandparents. I never really knew what my parents really believed in till then and I discovered that both my parents had the same confusions as me, my dad admited to being agnostic and my mom said she didn't think that all of the stories were true. So I began watching evolutionism videos with my dad and I realized that I real didn't believe anything in the bible anymore, it didn't make sense to me and I no longer wanted to be apart of it. I told my mom this discovery, hoping that she'd except why I wasn't going to church camp that summer, but she was furious. She screamed at me saying that i was going to burn in hell and then she kept crying for hours intill i apoligized and said that I didn't mean it. I don't know what to do. I hate feeling like a fraud at all of these religious things but if I tried to come out again my mom will send me off to this camp where you're "supposed" to get more "intouch" with god like she said she would last time, plus she says I should be happy she didn't tell my grandparents who would have disowned me. My dad seems to be somewhat accepting but keeps saying that I'm too young to be an atheist and that our family should really start going to church. How to I make it clear to my family that I'm an atheist?

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I agree, maybe not so vehemently, but I do. Do not keep it quiet if confronted, but do not try overtly to hide your feelings. Keep your eyes open at prayers, look around if you're forced to attend church; you might see someone else looking just as you are. Don't be afraid to bring up your mom's admission that some of the bible stories seem a little far-fetched. You have the same misgivings, I'm sure, but about more than just one or two of them. If you're going to get into an argument, prepare ahead of time as fighting with empty words is just silly, and be prepared for some vapid remarks like "well, it's part of God's plan." Conversation killers.

Groups like this are here to keep you sane in a world such as yours. Your parents probably do love you, but I know as a parent that losing control of a child is tough at each step. For pity's sake you're a teenager! ack! well, there's not much you can do about that except continue to grow.
Thank you so much for advice. I continued to bring up the subject with my dad, asking him why he continues to watch videos and seek out things related to atheism while still telling my mom and grandparents that he only has small doubts but otherwise believes. He later told me that he was afraid of how my mom may react to him if he made it known.

This, to me, is a bit of a game changer. I, like dolo724, am a father and a husband. I can say verily, some men are meek to their wives, some are oppressive, and some do some balance in between. It's all on you to figure how that works between your mother and father, but know that:

* your mother has many allies in your grandparents
* for whatever reason, your father is afraid of your mother's reaction

This may just be caution - not wanting to rock the boat...or he could know something deeper about her that warrants this fear. Depending on the distance from 18 that you are, you may be subject to her whim insofar as your father will permit - by experience, don't remind him he's equal partner in the relationship (this vernacular produces an environment of us/them)...instead, insist that the family is a unit consisting of numerous opinions that all matter (this vernacular produces an environment of compromise - see 'the prisoner's dilemma' with >2 participants: being consistent is common in all the strategies that fair well in this investigation).

dolo724 is right about conversation killers. Structure your sentences to not allow answers/rebuttals such as these - it's hard, but you'll get used to it. But what's more, let the conversation die there. I always used the line "well, there's no arguing that". This, and my following silence, would drive my mother/grandmother/aunt *MAD*...they would press the issue, and I would simply say (and repeat to all their advances) "the discussion is over - you invoked the final words". Being slightly narcissistic, I was very proud of this strategy. My break down:

0. 'there's no arguing that' sounds like a concession, but when taken literally, it means there is *NO* valid argument against it, meaning it can't be disproven which, incidently, means it can't be proven
1. the discussion is over - one side has forfeited their reason, thereby exiting the discourse
2. I do not say "You had the last word", though the implication is there, it's certainly not true, as their words held no meaning
3. I do not concede that they won, though a simpleton reading what I said would interpret as such
4. my apparent concession (and I had to keep my laughing internal as they extol their 'victory') would appease them temporarily - biding my time in resistant peace
5. when they finally wise up, it hits them like a ton of bricks. I was able to keep complete composure (because I had played the same strategy for so long) while they flew off the handle...made *ANYONE* in the vicinity more likely to side with me (2 cases) or at least disperse the emotions of the argument and give the freak her talk on remaining calm - though I'm sure there was a "Relax, it's just a phase"/"I know, but he's just so precocious^*" (countless cases).
6. the whole time I was maintaining the same front - and not a false one - so that when I *WAS* finally on my own, if the conflict wasn't less, the move towards an equilibrium was further along...the 'not-wasting-time' principle

I risk saying to much, and again, I plead, do not follow what I say or have done verbatim. It is vital for you to make your own assessments and formulate your own strategy. All I can do is share what I perceive to be a similar, if less-amplified, situation that I had. The parts of my post that look like commands or advice to you, are tested/tried/true issues I run into everywhere and/or statistical analysis of research. The parts where I say "I", "Me", etc are strictly anecdotal. They may help you, but please don't do exactly as I did - I couldn't bear the responsibility, and should probably delete this whole post before i hit enter. But what I will say, don't attack anyone's faith. Simply state that you can't accept it. Don't let people get away with calling your arrogant - in this case, you're conceding your own ignorance: 'I must turn to science to give me what answers it can. An assertion on faith doesn't pass muster, so I can't claim (as the faithful do) to "know"'.

Another long-winded response, but I'll second dolo724 *AGAIN*!!! We are here for support and what little rough advice we can truly call 'good knowledge'. Do what *YOU* think (not feel) is right. Your parents (your mother) is dealing with two stresses: your rejection of her faith and your increasing independence. I'm reminded of a quote of Plato's, and having the wherewithall to accept it makes it true and worth following: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle".

You are in a very fortunate time in your life. There are many things I wish I could relive in my teens - even some of the painful moments. I never lived to have regrets...mistakes, sure...but no regrets. This makes even the painful moments in my past infinitely valuable. Enjoy yours. If your parents try bringing religion up when you're having a fun time with the family, just tell them to "drop it for now, we're all having fun". Living and loving life is more important than proving you're right or that they're wrong. Remember, you may be ideological enemies, but you're still family. Family-love fulfills humans in a way little else can.

Once again, best of luck sister-soldier.

^*: don't let anyone ever use 'precocious' in the pejorative. Every child should be precocious and every parent should hope for a precocious child. Only the most precocious have done anything of a service to our world. To quote it differently "women who behave seldom make history" - this happens to be true for men, as well.
thanks. hehehe. Plato also said "Feh! Kids these days..." Parents have been wringing their hands over offspring for more generations than we like to admit.
I'm kind of late getting into this thread. My first thought had to do with your father's one comment.

Too young to be an Atheist? Heh, really? WTF? I was an Atheist at 5 years old. I just wasn't able to get away from the Catholic church activities until I was 14 or so.

Your mother could be a real problem. A lot of the really religious types have this weird mental block. It's like they can't accept the idea of someone not believing in God. To them, we Atheists all really know that God is real. We're just mad at Him, or we don't want to spend Sundays in church or tithe, or whatever reason they think we may have for denying Him. It's very possible that you'll never be able to explain things to her and get her to be rational about it.

I was thinking a little beyond simply turning 18. What about college? Are you expecting your parents to pay for that? In that case, I'd advise you to keep it a bit more to yourself, at least with your mother, until you're most of the way through college. Working your way through college SUCKS. It's worth putting up with the religious nonsense for the next handful of years.

It sounds like your father may be going through what I've heard with some of the "Dear Abby" calls on The Atheist Experience. They've had several calls from people who were fundamentalist Christians and have only fully discovered their Atheism in the past few years ... but now they have kids that they've been raising as fundamentalists ... and a spouse who's still just as fundamentalist as the day they were married. The whole situation sucks, and it sounds like your father may be stuck in it.

But yeah, I'd pretty much keep my head low, around the house, with someone like your mother in attendance. It was easy for me to break away, at 14, because my parents were Catholic. Most Catholics are pretty slack about their faith. The constant ritual turns them into nice little tithing robots who don't think much about the actual theology.

Once you're out of college and you've moved out for the final time, you'll be more free to say, "This is who I am, and if you want to be in my life, you have to accept me for who I am."
I came out just yesterday and my parents seemed alright with sure my mom cried and my dad totaly agreed with everything my mom said. Which she said I was going to hell, but i'm sure i will hear that alot for the next few months. just persever and survive. It was really hard telling them. It took me like ten minutes to form the words " I'm an atheist" talk about some difficult words to say. I said when i die. I'm gonna rot in the ground ,and then they asked me where my soul is going to go. and that had my stupmed of course the "soul" is just the manifestation of though. which will disapate like the electrochemical energy of your body after death. but still being raised a christan all my life till about two years ago. i wasn't really prepared to get in to a theological battle right there, so all i could do was sit there and take everything they were throwing at me. But WE WILL SURVIVE. THE END OF EARTH WON'T HAPPEN FOR A FEW BILLION YEARS ANYWAYS
You'll be fine. It'll get weird, but you'll be fine.


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