Ugh, I have the tendency to write a book when I type, so I am really going to try to restrain myself. In fact, I just cut everything I originally wrote in here and put it in a new discussion for me to post in another section more appropriate, the about me one. So starting over!
I have some problems/questions/concerns with completely coming out. I have so many struggles with it that I think it was easier for my gay cousin to come out then it is myself.
1. I don't want to break my mothers heart, or kill her! I remember one time saying something, I have no idea what, in regards to having doubts and basically asked how could I say such a thing and where did she go wrong with me. I know my mother, she will completely look at it like she did something wrong and now I am going to burn forever. But I also don't want to...
2. Lie or pretend. I have pretended to be a Christian for far to long, I can't do it. I did agnostic for awhile, because I really didn't know how I felt. Then I heard a comedian say that agnostics were cowardly atheist. And that statement felt true.
3. I don't know what to do when people pray around me. I am an introvert, I do not like confrontation, I hate the possibility of hurting or disrespecting someone. So up until now, if I am with someone that requests we say grace before a meal I will grab a hand, bow my head and keep my mouth shut. But I have a son now, a toddler. I absolutely do not want him saying grace or praying or any of that, but I also don't want him to see Mommy arguing with people over it either. Especially since some people can get worked up, saying that they will pray for you and whatnot.
4. Especially now that I have a son, I miss church. Like I said, I am a crazy introvert. I am to old to make friends just by running into people on the street. And I moved to many times to have any friends before this point. Church provides a sense of community, and family friendly activities that are usually free. What can we do besides church but it like church?
5. Like I said, I was raised to believe. I really have to stop myself from saying things like, 'I'll pray for you" or 'prayers please' when the little one is sick. But I'm doing ok. Any tips or tricks? Also, I have a christmas tree. I'm not taking that away from my boy and it has nothing to do with christianity anymore anyway...but what do I say to those people. You know the ones, the assholes who want to challenge your beliefs and question your sanity in front of your child?
Oh gee, think that is it for now. Thanks.
I'm also rather quiet and introvert, but the people in my family got the message soon enough, from the moment I stopped going to church, from what I read and from what I didn't do. I never had to worry about breaking their hearts, but they tried hard to break mine. Perhaps your family will also see your atheism as a breakingpoint - but can you go on living a lie? Just follow your own road, for yourself and for your child. There's no other way to be honest with yourself, and sooner or later some people will recognize it and be friends. I know about missing the community activities of church. Replace it by doing things in a community centre, catsitting for neighbours and similar things.
The issue of coming out for atheists, even as for those of the LGBTiq community is tough enough as it is. Doing so in a hostile environment is even more so. I have insisted since I became aware of this problem that there is no one answer, other than to do what is comfortable for YOU and not to be cajoled or otherwise forced into actions which don't suit you. The problem is that it is exceptionally difficult to sneak up on announcing your atheism. It's rather like throwing a switch: it's either on or off and when that light hits the room it will startle people (and more!). If it's any help, Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist has recorded the annals of his own process of removing himself from religion in the book, Deconverted. You might have a look at that. It is a good and quick and easy read.
As it comes to community, for openers, you got us [grin!], and there are atheist, freethinkers, and skeptics organizations all over the US. I have little doubt you might find one near you. As a final note, if there is anything I personally can do by way of researching something or coming up with some kind of answer to a question. please ask. I'll give you my best shot and if the answer is "I don't know," I will be honest about that as well.
Atheist Nexus IS a community, and if I can help, I want to.
I found many, if not most, of the attendees of a Unitarian Universalist church were atheists. Do you have one near you? If so, I highly recommend giving it a try.
"Unfortunately, I live in the middle of nowhere right now."
This is a sad truth that in spite of the Internet era, in the US there are places where civilization and education is still poor because of religious mentality. Usually those places are in the "Christian bible belt", from where now and then, some people who got educated, in spite of Christian suppression, cry for help to get out from the suppression of Christian leaders, who want the US became like a Muslim controlled country.
The "bible belt" mostly provides votes for Republicans, and when recruited in the army, the young form the "bible belt" die in Muslim countries to defend Christianity. The "holy wars" are still kicking, they are not anymore thing of the past.
Zoie, I have found myself in many situations where prayer was being called for, social dinners, weddings etc. I do not bow my head or close my eyes. Instead I pass the time, sometimes painfully long, by looking around at those in attendance to see who is doing what. Its sort of fun. You get mixed reactions when you make eye contact with others who are not praying either. When I make eye contact I smile and shrug at them, most of the time they drop their heads and join in the prayer, as if they were caught doing something wrong by not praying. Other times I get smiles back, these are the folks I end up hanging with at a function.
Christmas trees never had anything to do with religion. Have one if you like and feel good about it. If your child believes in Santa you might end up putting Jesus in that same category when your meddling relatives teach the boy about religion. It's probably the best you can do, and I say this because they will eventually get through to him on religion. They feel it is their "duty" as Christians.
Otherwise, you can make your beliefs (or lack of them) known and let friends and relatives know that this is not something that is up for discussion. You will not be shamed or humbled into any beliefs about anything. Arguments in front of your child and family "attacks" are not allowed. If they start doing this to you, leave the group or go home. This is the most clear message you can give.
A certain amount of lying and pretending is needed, however. I'm finding that once again I work for a man who is a strong believer. The best thing to do here is keep your mouth shut and say little or nothing about religion even if he brings it up. Doing otherwise may not work out to my best liking.
I know everything is a challenge to you. Life is like that. I remember when I joined the Army and my stepfather said to me "look at what you've done to your mother." They will try such guilt trips and I never did anything to my mother. They do it all to themselves.
Hello Zoie, I'm 77 years old now, but I still remember the day I broke the news to my parents that I was an Atheist. I was 20 years old then. I was really scared, because although we weren't that religious around the house, and we didn't go to church, I didn't know there was a word "Atheist", and I didn't know what to expect. I just begin to have doubts, and one day I decided that nothing made sense about religion. We were at the dinner table, and I was thinking about it while we were eating, and finally I said, "I don't believe in God". I was ready for the roof to cave in, but they hemmed and hawed and said, "Well, that's fine, there are a lot of people who think that way.". And that was it.
I have the feeling it wouldn't be the same way for you. What you might do is ask her to sit down for a moment, and explain to her that you have something important to talk about. Start off by telling her how much you appreciate the way she raised you, and everything she taught you, but you have come to a belief that is different from what she taught you. And then tell her you're an Atheist.
If she starts going into the "Oh where did I go wrong?" routine, explain to her that she didn't go wrong, but she should understand that you are an adult now, and she should respect your right to have your own thoughts, and opinions. Explain to her that you respect her beliefs, and you expect her to respect yours. You might wait a day or two, and then ask her not to mention religion or God to your son.
I understand your quandry, but no one said being an adult is always fun.
I don't think that saying: "I don't believe in God", makes you an Atheist.
Saying "I don't believe in God" is just expressing your normal feelings vis-a-vis to religious feelings imposed for thousands of years by religious leaders.
Nowadays trend is not to even mention "I don't believe in God", for it is just part of everybody understanding reality. I do help, I get help, I respect the laws, I communicate with others, I fell happy, I feel sad, and I don't even had to mention "God" or "God" to be mentioned to me.
Sure, there are some automatism where I mention "God", but it means nothing, life can be very well lived without religion in it or without mentioning "Atheism".
A teacher I know sponsors both LGBT and Humanist clubs at a local high school. I asked if she had any kids in both groups, and she said yes. And before I could ask, she said they reported that coming out atheist/agnostic to the family was harder than coming out gay. Sometimes when you say you no longer believe, somebody will suggest you just go through the motions for your child. You might forestall that by saying "... and I know you wouldn't want me to fake a belief that means so much to you."
Life's situations put me at odds with my family, friends, community over several different issues. It finally got to the point where I had to think things through very carefully, talk to trusted people for input, explore the pros and cons of the decisions I make. I then stand with my feet firmly on the ground, head held high, a strong spine, shoulders squared, and take the plunge. Sure, there is resistance, some expression of disgust, some abandonment. That just goes with growing up. If you believe something, there is no reason to explain or apologize. You think what you think and until evidence appears to refute your decision, then you stand on a firm foundation of knowledge based on evidence. If you get new evidence, then you reconsider.
The problem with living in the south or in a bigoted community is everybody wants to be liked, they want to fit in. So they go with the flow. If you want to fit it, then mirror what you see and hear. If you want to think for yourself, then do it.
I can no more impose my thinking on another as I will not accept an imposition of others on me.