I really want to come out as an atheist to my family of catholics (mother is very devout, the rest are pretty much cultural christians). Reason being, I live in a town where you are almost expected to believe. There are very few non-believers. I want to advocate positive atheism to the people around me and be there for people who have questions. A select few of my friends know, but I still consider myself "in the closet" because the majority of people don't know who I am.
It starts with my family. I'm living with them here and there and dependent on my parents for financial support. So, I don't want to just "rip the bandaid off" and tell them. I want step by step drop some hints and hopefully let them figure out on their own that I am an atheist. My question is, how do I slowly but surely let my family in on my secret?
My husband's family is Catholic (my MIL goes to church more than just one time a week, my SIL is a Catholic blogger and before that was the church administrator, and the whole family is EXTREMELY active in the church). Perhaps the dynamic with in-laws is different than with your own children, but I would just come out with it. What I said is this: "I've tried very hard to believe. I had doubts as a child, but I've tried again as an adult. I've gone to mass every weekend for a year; I tried the CCAD classes (Catholic conversion classes). I simply do not believe that there is a god or angels or saints or any of that. I just can't. And going through the motions and faking it is disrespectful to you and your faith." My MIL prays that I will become Christian at some point and also prays for other things, too, and I've told her that I really appreciate that (because it IS a nice gesture), and because I treat their beliefs with respect, they treat mine with respect.
It wasn't hard to come out; there wasn't any angst, probably because I wasn't a huge "religion is stupid" jerk about it. I don't know if hint-dropping is the best way to go about it, because you're setting yourself up to face years of your family trying to persuade you to come back to the church. I also think that your family probably suspect more than you think that they do, and it seems kind of disrespectful to get them used to the idea when you're not on the fence, you're convinced. If you're committed to this action, stop taking communion, but still go to church, if it's a family activity: you want to be with them, but you don't think that some flour and water is flesh and you don't think red wine is blood, even after a guy prayed over it for a couple minutes. Bring home books on atheism, mention this site, etc. I think honesty is the best policy though, but if you want to express more uncertainty than you actually feel, that might be a way to ease them into it, like John D. mentions.
Thanks for the response. I guess the only person I'm worried about is my mother getting angry and feeling like she "failed as a catholic parent" when I come out. Which is why maybe "letting them down easy" would be preferred? The thing is, for being a catholic parent...we never have ever really talked about god or religion. So I don't have a chance to give some context clues that I don't believe and am skeptical.
Waiting isn't always a bad thing. I'll be away at college in the fall so I guess I can "prep" my coming out extravaganza for a certain time. The only question is when...