Is there ANYTHING I can say to my nephew to make him reconsider his decision to attend Liberty University?

When he was growing up, I tried my best to corrupt him, but apparently it didn't do any good. ;) I feel his going to Liberty University will turn him into my enemy.


I'm enormously disappointed in my teabagging, fundamentalist family. They must feel the same way about me, but the difference is I'm alone. I held out some hope that my nephew, the youngest member of the family, would be different, but it looks like he'll be just another right-wing fundy.


I'm devastated and I have to admit it's kept me from keeping in close contact with him. I still love him, but now that he's grown I'm going to have to put some distance between us: the same distance I keep between myself and the rest of the family.


I'm incredibly lonely and it doesn't look like that will ever change.

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Expecting to have a bit of influence on a nephew is reasonable, but as he is not you, nor your child, you shouldn't expect too much. Sorry to head about that tho. On the bright side, there is nothing preventing him from changing after a semester OS there?
I know it's his life and his decision. That's why I've been fretting so much, wondering what--if anything--I should say.

I don't know anything about Liberty University, but some people actually see the flaws in religion once thay get more involved into it. If your nephew is currently just going along with the Christian thing without thinking about it much, this might force his religion in the spotlight, allowing him to see its flaws.


...or he could turn into an evangelical bible-thumper. One of the two.

Yes, this is what I was going to write.  I've had friends and relatives go either way.  But I would expect he will get religiously nutty at least for a while.  You'll have to let it wear itself out.
Liberty University is Falwell's baby. It's ultra-fundy and there's a mandatory class on intelligent design.
I have a niece who I thought would end up like her sanctimonious prick of a dad (yes, my brother). In her teen years, she did all the mega-church stuff, and I thought she was a gonner. Still, I kept in contact with her (her mother died after she and my brother got divorced, which was the only reason she was living with her sanctimonious prick of a dad, so I felt like she needed some sort of positive female influence in her life). But after she went off to college, and got away from my brother's judgmental insanity, she gradually came around to my side of the table. Granted, it was not a religious college, and she met her atheist boyfriend, who really was probably a much greater influence on her than I could ever have been.

I do wonder had she continued on the path of fundyism that she had started down if we would now be as close, and I hope the answer would be yes. When she moved back after college, we started meeting regularly for sushi night, and it wasn't until several months later that she told me about her religious views and how they had changed. I love that I have a close relationship with her, and I do hope I've had a positive influence in her life by trying to encourage her (her dad's a very depressing pisser).

So I guess my question is: why do you feel that you have to keep your distance from him? You can be an atheist and still be a positive roll model. You can still have conversations with him, and gently question why he believes what he does, and if he's at all curious about you, he might ask questions back about why you believe what you believe (or don't). The point I guess I'm trying to make is that it is never too late. You don't know where he's going to end up. Yes, maybe he'll turn into the next Benny Hinn, but hopefully not. If you cut off ties, then not only do you give up the opportunity to inform him on another way of life, but you also as you say, increase your loneliness.

And just so you know-I grew up in a religious household, was baptized when I was 10, did all the religious things and believed them when they said that hell was a real place with lots of burny fire to suffer in. 30 years later, I am at the complete opposite of that spectrum. There is hope for us all.

Regina, you make several good points.  I, too, was raised in a jesus filled, church-going home, and I bought into it for a while.  How can you not be when you are brainwashed from the first moment you can talk? 


My only hesitation is that talking about religion too soon could cause some hostility.  My experience was that I was not at all ready to have that discussion (as in, be questioned about why I believed what I believed) until a bit after college (when I was 22).  Up until that point, I would have ignorantly spouted out all the hooey that I had been spoon-fed.  It took me being away from my family and more independent.  Of course, now that I am 42 and a big old atheist, I lament that I never got a chance to talk to my dear atheist grandmother about our shared atheism.  It was a topic that was not allowed by my parents, and she died when I was 15:(

Some break free, but most don't when they are that brainwashed.


The distance between my nephew and me isn't entirely my doing. He's been distant as well and now that he's planning on attending Liberty University, I can guess why. It goes both ways, as I found out with my mother.


The only time I ever talked with him about anything controversial is when he said Barack Obama was a Muslim. I sent him to Snopes and he said Snopes was biased. So I threw my hands into the air and said to myself, "Fine. It's his life."


And so I shut up. And I'll probably continue to shut up.


The problem is fundies don't recognize or understand boundaries and you have to particularly stringent when establishing them. That's one of the reasons for the distance.

Okay, so it sounds like he's already partly brainwashed, but he cares about bias. That's a start.


The best advice I can give you is to talk to him about how he knows which sources of information are biased. Don't try to convince him that one is or isn't, because then he'll just think you're on their side. Instead, just focus on critical thinking. Does he think this university is biased? Regardless of what answer he gives, ask him his reasoning for his answer. Don't tell him he's wrong, just get him thinking for himself.

Point taken. Thinking back, I started my religious explorations around the age of 19 or 20, but by then I hadn't been to church regularly for several years, and even then I didn't consider the possibility of no-god. It wasn't until I was in my 30's that no-god became a likely possibility. Since Fundyland's nephew is going to a highly religious college, it's unlikely that he will be allowed to come up for air and think logically about what he's being fed.

I don't want to cut off all contact with him and I won't, but my religious family doesn't understand boundaries. Actually, I should say my religious mother didn't / doesn't understand boundaries. I went through hell trying to get her to lay off. At one point she tried to have me committed to a mental institution because she thought I was demon-possessed.


Yes, there are nuts in my family. I was one of them, just as batshit insane as my mother was (is?). She seems to have calmed down at least a little. If he's anything like I was, my nephew is going to go through one hell of an ultra-religious phase. I don't want it pointed at me. Considering his youth, it should be easier to establish boundaries than it was with my mother. I hope.


Also, my nephew absolutely will not talk about personal matters. I tried to get him to when he was younger, but he buttoned up. There was a really bad divorce and neither parent was really there for him. His mother has a nice cadre of psychological problems, including histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders. These were diagnosed by a psychologist, but I guessed correctly ahead of time. :) My ex-sister-in-law sued the psychologist over the diagnoses. Hell, she sued everyone she could. I don't know how many times she took my brother to court. It must have been in the teens at least.


Maybe I'm underestimating my nephew, but I don't think he has what it takes to break free and at some point he may be the one trying to control my life like my mother did. Considering I'm on disability, at some point he actually may be able to exert some kind of control on my life, like my mother currently does.


My mother and I have worked out the worst of the problems, but there are still issues that need to be addressed. The problem is I usually don't feel well enough to tackle them.


Like all family issues, it's complicated.

It sounds like you have your hands full with all this silliness and I'm sorry for it. Even the most wishy-washy of us (and I do put myself in that category, especially when I was a teenager/young adult) can come around. If nothing else, it would be nice for him to know that you're there for him if he needs anything. It sounds like he hasn't had the greatest childhood and someone like you who can be there for him might be the best thing for him. He may never turn out the way you want him to be, so yes, establishing boundaries now is a good idea. Hopefully you can find a balance of being there for him and not putting up with any proselytizing bs.




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