So I'm 14 and was (am) raised as a lutheran. About 2 years ago I realized that it's all a bunch of crap, and i've been reading around the internet about atheism. I now think of myself as an atheist, but I don't know how to tell my parents. I'm currently going through confirmation, which is really ironic that I'm going to have to "confirm" my "belief." I don't know if I should wait until after I'm "confirmed", or just suck it up and come out now. I still have about 1 year until I'm done with confirmation. Also, my mom's friend's family is very religious, and we see them a lot and I don't know what they'd think if I came out. I know my parents aren't super serious about religion, but they make me go to confirmation every wednesday because "they believe having a strong faith is important." When I do come out and tell them, I don't even know how I would bring it up, or what I would say. It's not like I can just go up and say, "Hey guys guess what turns out I'm an athiest!" I obviously need some help here with this.

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Well what do you think will happen to you if you tell your parents?


Cos the rule of thumb I would say is if it leads to violence or to any kinds of threats or mistreatment or a general increase in trouble don't do it.  4 years and you'll be 18 and can be much more independant.

However I want to encourage you so on the other hand if you can go to them and say "I don't want to get confirmed." and answer the inevitable "why" with 'I've thought about it a lot and I don't believe in god' and give your reasons for why, and say I'm only 14, I know but I don't want this and I hope you can support my decision because I don't want to do something dishonestly.

Don't worry about the friends of friends.  I don't want you to loose them but at the same time what is more important their feelings or yours?

Very good advice in the post above. 
Well, I told my parents I didn't want to do confirmation anymore, and they said I had to. I think they think it's a "I don't want to have to go every wednesday night" kind of thing rather than I don't actually want to be confirmed. I have confirmation again tomorrow, and I'll try saying it again. But my parents still insist that' it's important...
I think my dad forgot I had confirmation today (my mom is on a business trip) and he's not as insistent on me going, so I think he'd let me stay.
Well, I guess I kind of came out today. My mom brought up confirmation, and I said I didn't want to do it anymore. She asked why, and then before I could answer she asked "Do you not really believe this stuff or what?" The whole conversation was awkward, even though I'd been preparing in my mind for it for a long time. She said to do more research, and I said I had already and had read the Bible front to back, and it's hard to believe any of it. Then she pulled the "Well doesn't that make you feel lonely?" and I said not really and it makes me feel the opposite. I was pretty nervous and couldn't really think of anything to say of why I don't believe in god, so I think she doesn't think I'm serious. But the conversation wasn't angry or anything, and my mom didn't seem all that upset. I kind of accidently came out, I guess. Is there anything I should do now, or what?
Well Gunnar, glad it went not bad and okay. 

I think you've done the hard part. So now just concentrate on growing up and developing your critical thinking skills.  This will serve you very well as an adult. And you've already taken a massive step that a great many adults never do.  This is to your considerable esteem and credit.

So yeah as Meddlesome said, continue to broaden your perspectives wherever possible. Learn some history learn some science. Learn about religion itself it's useful to know about it and understand it even if you don't believe it as none of us do.

It would be good to for instance read some of the other texts of other faiths.  Nothing is more confirming of the mythical nature of the divine than to read the foundational texts of other religions and their magical claims that you've probably never been taught. 

If these strike you as being rather fantastic and mythical then it's an even better grounding for you in the false consolations of the faith closest to you.

Basically, knuckle down for the next few years and do well at school - and after that the world can be your oyster and you'll be free to enjoy it, free of delusion.  Now won't that be nice?
It's a tough call. Have you thought about a soft approach, like instead of jumping right out there with your non-belief you could start by asking your parents some questions about faith, like "do you think there is evidence that god is real?"  Or "You know, science doesn't really agree with what the church (or bible) says on..........  What do you think about science vs. bible?"  Maybe by doing that it will open up an opportunity to discuss some of your doubts. You might find they have some doubts too. You also might find that they are very resistant to talking about it at all, which could indicate that "coming out" to them might not be the way to go.  Just a suggestion.  Remember, they love you, so it shouldn't be too hard to talk to them. Best wishes.

I am almost 27 and I still have not come out as an atheist to most people. Unless I think I can use reason to at least influence someone's mind about theism for their personal benefit, I usually just let people assume I am a Christian or whatever. Of course, if people ask me my beliefs, then they have opened up the conversation to a lot then. I wish it was not this way, but in the Deep South it's a matter of adaptation and survival. Telling my parents that I am an atheist will not influence their beliefs, it will not help them and in fact it will do them unnecessary emotional harm. So on that end, you have to be responsible.


But I also believe in being honest. I think you should tell your parents you do not want to go through this ritual (but like the poster before, only if it will not cause you any harm, and if that's the case then you should consider contacting your local child welfare agency if the harm can be serious!). Whether or not you give them the details about your atheism is up to you, perhaps you could just sum it up by saying that you want to give it more time to think about or that you do not feel that you meet the level of commitment required to proceed with the ritual. Or you can just spill your guts and tell them what the poster above said. At any rate, I'd give yourself as much time as possible to think about how to proceed.


I'm open with my friends about my atheism. And if a theist friend of mine decides to debate the issue with me, I mercilessly argue the case. I guess that sort of makes me a closeted evangelical atheist. But I see no reason to tell my parents the whole story. They know I don't go to church and perhaps they can read between the lines. And when a well-meaning soul invites me to church, I thank them for the invitation and just explain that I have other obligations around that time. If they press the issue then I allow myself to be a militant disbeliever with them. Oh and if they are some random evangelical I don't know personally, I hit them with reason as  hard as they can be hit with it before they give up and leave.


So think of the possible consequences of your actions. Be honest, but be responsible.

Strategically I think it would be best to start asking questions, such as "why do you think religion is important", "what do you think of different religions?" or "what do you think of agnosticism or atheism?".

Even though your parents aren't extremely religious, it would be a good idea to use a somewhat stealthy approach rather than just dropping a bomb that might be needlessly upsetting. This will give you feedback as to whether it's a problem for them or not, and whether it's a better idea to postpone telling them.

Much as I honestly can sympathize with you about your plight with your parents I’m more inclined to actually side with your parents (Okay, yes, I know you haven’t told them yet. But bear with me for a minute and I’ll tell you why).

Your parents have long been vested in having you become a “Confirmed Lutheran” for many reasons. The primary ones are for peace of mind that they’ve “done the right thing according to their beliefs” where raising you is concerned, also they’re probably worried about keeping up appearances within the Lutheran community. But I might also caution you that telling them that you’re an Atheist can oftentimes be a stinging insult to one’s parents. Because religiously minded people are oftentimes incapable of seeing the idea of “non-secularism” as anything other than pure evil or Satan worship.

Yes, I agree with Mayur in that “it only reflects your intellectual capabilities and the rationality of your mind” but religious people could care less about an individual’s mind when it comes to their local flavor of God. It really doesn’t matter how intellectually rational you are when you take into account that religion doesn’t concern itself with “rationalities”. I mean look at all the people who are church goers in this country, how many of them do you think are religious for “rational” reasons? In fact can you honestly give even one scientifically rational reason for believing in God in the first place?  

If anything I would probably wait until you were much older before mentioning that you’re an Atheist (if ever). As it is I announced to my family my lack of secularism near the end of this last year, and only a few weeks ago they pretty much labeled me “sick” and “twisted” and basically disowned me. And here I’m in my late 40’s. I just shudder to think what would have happened if I had told them while I was still living under their roof.

You struggle reminds me of my youth.  I was raised Catholic and like you I had to go through confirmation (not to mention all the other catholic sacraments including communion and confession.  That last one is particularly creepy).  My mother was and still is very religious.  I told both her and my dad I didn't believe and i wanted to scrub the whole thing.  My parents did a masterful job of applying both guilt and greed (grandma and family give you gifts at these ridiculous rituals) to persuade me to recite their incantations to their little imaginary friends.  Unfortunately, at age 14 you are still rather beholden to your parents and you do owe them proper respect.  

My advice is for you to honestly tell your parents you are an Atheist (it's OK to use the word Atheist.  It's not a dirty word) not a Lutheran and that going through with the confirmation would be hypocritical.  If they insist, well as I said you still owe them respect but buck up, 18 is just around the corner. 

Gunnar, I had the same type of experience. I was being raised Jewish, and at the age of 12 I was for sure an atheist, and you are the first person I've met who was the same. At age 13 I had to get Bar-Mitzvahed, which is essentially "confirmation" for Jews. I went through with it, mostly because my parents told me my grandparents would flip out and I didn't want to hurt granny and grandpa! My grandparents were Conservative Jews, which means they were pretty serious about Judaism (I guess like born-again Christians, I don't know what your experiences growing up Christian were like). But that's the point, the common theme here is that they are both fundamentally wrong and shouldn't be adhered to. I am telling you that you should tell your parents. I know its the crazy, my whole life is going to change thing to do, but you will feel so much stronger and better about yourself if you can make the moral stands now, and when you come across those hard decisions again later in life (you will), you will know you can do the right and good thing because you have done it before and you have always done it. You have a unique opportunity to show how much more noble, how much more heroic, how much more virtuous we atheists can be when faced with the reality of the situation, because when it comes down to it, the only difference between atheists and the religious are that we are not afraid to look at how the world is, and who we are as people and individuals, and not afraid to take a risk to ourselves if it means helping to make this world (and no other, imaginary worlds) a better place.


I wish I had the opportunity you have. If I knew then what I know now, I would do so very many things different. And in nearly every case it is because I had some earlier failing which sapped my strength for the next fight. Start taking your first great leaps now, and you may turn out to be a truly great person in the future. You will at least be able to say that you stood up for what you knew was right, and those kinds of experiences are what makes life really good. Any other pleasure only fulfills you for the moments, but these fill you up and make you happy about yourself for your whole life.


You are in the position of having people say that you are doing them some harm. But you are also in the position of doing them some actual good. Since you know you are not harming them in actuality, you have the opportunity to practise how to handle these types of situations for the future. Once you get used to dealing with how people will react to your presence the way you want to be with them, the more comfortable you will be with yourself. If you get people used to your presence without noticing what it means to you, you will get too caught up in trying to accomodate yourself around others, rather than being capable of getting them to try to accomodate you. This is the essence of affecting good in the world. The old saying goes, "evil only succeeds where good men do nothing". Do something with your life!


And believe me, if something happens to you everyone here will find out and do everything possible to protect you from any kind of serious threat, just so you know.




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