It is a tragic event when a son or daughter comes to their religious parent and proclaims their atheism. It is usually never good. Like scenario A: (which happened to me) Son comes to mother says I am an atheist, mother tries not to judge, son wants to talk about it to her, mother does not.

This leaves a huge elephant in the room that we both try to ignore. Am I so wrong that I dont want to ignore it? I want to talk about my beliefs to someone who has told me all of my life that my soul will burn in hell for eternity for how I now believe (or don't believe as I pointed out to her). It makes a normally pleasant mother rude and mad. I get hurt and it usually ends in a yelling match. We both blame the other.

I am sure to her this confirms that atheism has made her wonderful son a militant and is a bad thing to be avoided. How do I talk to her about my eternally damned soul, and that she needs not worry. I am sure this happens a lot. I have heard Christians share stories about their son/daughter turning atheist and that it has turned their otherwise sweet child into a devil. Theists on average get mad discussing the topic, its just a fact. Atheists can see it as any other topic and can talk candidly about it. I was hoping to psychologically analyze this debacle and help all other new atheists in this situation.

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After reading all the stories, I guess my mother and I have a different relationship then the rest. Of course to a "born again" christian finding out that their son is atheist, is painful. even more so having the fact that they have had that faith for 60 years.

That is were the similarities end for the most part. My mother still tells me that she's sad that we will not spend eternity together but she makes no reference to being angry with me. Conversations go on as they always have, but now we have "fun" with the new subject (god vs no god). It's not every time we get together, but quite often we will stop and have very short debates. she asks questions about atheism and I answer. then the next time it's my turn. So it's actually not a debate per say but more Q and A. there is no rebuttal after the question, you just listen to the answer and that is that. On several occasions we have gotten a laugh out of the answers.

I know my mother is not happy about me renouncing "god" but she is trying very hard to be comfortable with it. I commend her for the effort she puts in. She is not the most intelligent person in the world but she has a wonderfully rational mind. The only thing she has asked of me is to NOT tell my grandmother, Which is easy because i would never dream of breaking my grandmothers heart that way. But as the title states, in her eyes "I am still going to hell"
I see your point of view and I agree with it, but in my opinion it's better then being cut off from my mother all together as many have been. As for the "burn in hell forever you evil infidel" part. I doubt very highly she knows what the definition of infidel is. like i stated she's not the smartest cookie. of course that's probably why she holds on to religion so tightly
57-year old 'child' here, still living with the elephant in the room. Fortunately on a different continent. I just sigh and ignore my dear mother going on about how 'the lord' is taking care of this and that, and the other. I am certainly not going to argue over religion with my 81-year old mother. What I do resent though, is her 80-something year old (second) husband attacking me gratuitously for my non-believing status. I have still not figured out whether I should consider him being inebriated at the time as an aggravating or mitigating factor. Probably neither. The man is just a hypocritical christian of the worst kind.
My mother knows I am atheist, but she still talks about praying for this and praying for that when I talk to her on the phone. I have tolerated for the many years that she has known I am an atheist, but today and about 1 month ago, she mentioned her prayers again and I asked her to please not talk about praying to me anymore. I do not believe her her imaginary friend.

She said, "Okay, I won't"

Reading her tone of voice, what I heard was, "Okay, I won't talk about prayer and we will not have a good relationship anymore. That will be your punishment for belittling my fairy tale beliefs."

It saddens me to know that she was hurt by my words, but I can no longer stand by and let her talk to me like I believed in prayer. I feel violated by the fact that she gets to talk about her delusions to me, while I stew in anger thinking that I cannot let my mother be conned even though she is a willing victim. I should have the right to say something!

If this happens again, I am not going to ask her to please stop. That makes it sound like, "I am afraid of Jesus. Please stop talking about him or he will take over my evil soul." What I should say is that there is no God to pray to and if she gets offended, I will tell her that I will defend my right to protect her sanity every time she talks about God. If she does not want to hear my defense, she should not bring the topic up.
Sorry to hear about this! i wrote on this thread before about my partner's mom, who is fundie (and he is ex). i cringed when you describe your conversation because i have heard hundreds like it! I know for him it is not that his mother mentions church or god or prayer in passing, which he would not mind, as he knows and accepts that it is an important part of her life. it's that she pushes it, talks about it constantly, sometimes to the exclusion of all else (even our child!) Every event is somehow related to god - such as when she was retelling the story of how his sister avoided a car accident, and went on and on about the miraculous intervention of god to save his sister (these lines always leave me fuming - so all the people who died or were injured in car accidents were not chrisitans or "good people" or what?)
the real issue with these conversations is that she is trying to persuade him, not have a conversation (and i suspect your mother is doing the same). like you, he asked her many times to stop talking about god. finally, he clearly told he that if she persisted, he would start hanging up in her. and he did. as soon as she started, he would say, "Oops, mom, there's something in the oven, gotta run!" or "the baby's crying, gotta go!" and hang up. eventually, she got the message and stopped (for awhile..then she tried a new tactic. but that's another story)
unfortunately, this does not solve the problem of having a "good relationship" with your mother. my partner does not have a good relationship with his mom since he left xtianity. it has been 7 years and she has not stopped her abusive behavior (she refuses to respect any boundaries he sets for their relationship). the only reason he has any contact with her at all is because otherwise he is not "allowed" to have contact with his dad, with whom who was once very close.
i'm not sure i gave you any advice that will help, but know that you are not alone in your frustration! good luck!
Yes, it was helpful. I think she is trying to re-convert me. It is the perfect ploy because if I call her on it, she can easily deny it and make me sound paranoid.

She is almost 77 and I want to make sure I stay in contact with her. I don't think I will make excuses to get off the line. I think I will just calmly say that "There is no one to pray to. There have even been scientific experiments that have demonstrated the ineffectiveness of prayer." She will get upset and I will have to listen to that and maybe hear her cry, but eventually I think she will get the hint and I will not have to be tricky like Christians are.
Yeah, I know. She's definitely trying to reconvert you - I know that is our situation. The reason my partner would give her an "excuse" before he got off the phone was really because he didn't want to give her an opportunity to argue with him. I mean, saying that prayer is ineffective and making your 77yo mom cry maybe isn't all that compassionate! - but then again I know that teeth gritting feeling when they feel that it is their right/imperative to push it down your throat and you have to stand up and be the bigger person (always).
How this worked was that my partner laid out the guidelines for his mom very clearly. He told her flat out that he had asked her to respect his wish not to discuss god/prayer/faith many times, and she had refused, so he had to try something new. He gave her topics which were OK (the baby, school, work, house improvements, pets, cars - lots to choose from!) and then directly stated that from now on, if she persisted in talking about the off-limits topics, he would end the conversation immediately. So when he made flimsy "excuses" to get off the phone, it was more like he was giving her a signal - ooops, you've ventured into off-limits territory, this conversation is now over.

There was a reason to give the non-religion related excuses: if he had said, "now you're talking about god, and i'm done" or worse yet directly confronted something she had said about religion, that was just the moment she was waiting for to jump in and start her arguments. she deliberately said things she knew he disagreed with in the hopes of getting him to argue with her. So the hang-ups were his way of not engaging in the same old argument, and reinforcing that he meant what he said. (this had gone on for 2-3 years by this point, so he was tired of the same old arguments.) and believe it or not, after a couple months of it, she got the message. as demeaning as it sounds, we compared it to house training a puppy. eventually, she knew what not to do, because she knew she wouldn't get anywhere.
so after about a year of those limited conversations, where my partner finally felt happy not to have to listen to it anymore, she faked having terminal cancer in order to guilt my partner into letting her go back to her lengthy rants. but like i said, that's a whole other story!
Wow! Faked cancer, really?
I think will try the "I need go now." excuse. At least I would not have to lie to her, after all, I have the morals of an atheist. I have to live with my actions, with no God to forgive them. It is true that I would need to go, because I can't take it any more. Thanks for the help.
The morals of an atheist still has to sleep at night somehow. That's what keeps me inline. I also think about what legacy am I leaving and what would anyone say at my funeral. I had the privilege of sitting in at Skip Caray's funeral and it really got me thinking about that what would they say at my funeral stuff. I didn't realize how wonderful of a man and down to earth he really was in real life.
So, are you saying I should continue to let her talk about prayer, without consequence. Should I just sit there and stew in my thoughts about my mother being conned and her conning me as a child?
So what is your recommendation, Clare, accept the abuse?
Thanks, that is where we are now. I have given her much reading material and evidence about my understanding. She hasn't read any of it but she knows that I have a very good reason that she cannot contend with. Faith is a much better reason to believe in something rather than evidence and reality (apparently). But she leaves the topic alone, and so do I.


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