How have you all dealt with your religious family members?

Are you still in the closet?

Have they disowned you?

How do you handle holidays and family functions?

Does anyone still have religious spouses?

I'm sure many of us will be encouraged and can learn from your insights.

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My own mom refused to go on foodstamps for her three near-starving children, because "the Lord will provide". It wasn't pleasant. Sorry to hear about your nephew; I'm sure you know that religious medical neglect is my crusade issue. In most states, it is possible to make a report to child services (I'd suggest the school if they were enrolled...) and get someone out there to explain to her why it's vitally important to provide proper medical treatment. These things don't always have to end in tragedy.
I put my story in another place on this forum, but I think it is more appropriate here.

My father was a fundamentalist preacher. He is dead now, but my brothers and sisters and all their families are die hard fundamentalist Christians. Not only that, but I went to Bible College and Seminary and was a preacher myself for awhile. I raised my kids as Christians and we even home schooled them using textbooks from Bob Jones University. I sent all my kids to Bible College. To top that off, one of my grown children now is employed by Ray Comfort (banana man) who produces the Way of the Master TV shows and has challenged Richard Dawkins to a debate. I really really doubt anyone can top my experience (well maybe Nate Phelps can) of being in the midst and mire of a fundamentalist family. I became a non-believer gradually over the years, but have considered myself an atheist for about 10 years now. My unique position is that I am a parent and a grandparent. While I can live in disharmony with my siblings and assorted in-laws, I would find it very difficult to be ostracized by my grown children and not be able to see them or my grandkids. So I have not come out of the closet about my atheism. It IS difficult to hide it sometimes, but since we live 2000 miles or so apart they have not found out yet. I don't like living a lie (mainly because its so damn hard), but I just can't see tearing my family apart over this. I am afraid if I tell my grown children they will never let me see them or my grandkids again.
I agree that "coming out" to my mother was infinitely easier than it would be to have to "come out" to my son. But I deconverted from fundamentalist Christianity/cultism between my son's 2 and 3rd birthdays, so I'm lucky. I will say I too know what it's like to be very mired in it. My grandmother founded a Christian sect of faith healers, and raised me to take over after her. I spent the first 20 some years of life believing I yielded magical powers to heal people and expel demons from them, and the come down to reality was both glorious and horrible.
Sheez this atheism stuff is not for the faint of heart.
I haven't 'come out' to my family yet. I grew up Lutheran, but then became Southern Baptist. The weird thing is that, for my fundy-est sister, that wasn't xian enough. We didn't speak in tongues, y'know.

My mom is not well (age 87), and is still religious. Once she dies I will be open with my 3 sisters. Mom is waiting for a spot in a 'long term care facility', NOT a nursing home (!) and is, understandably, bored. So, I bought her books, none of which are xian. Everybody deserves a break, right?

My sisters do know that I won't go to church, and I won't let them pressure my kids to go to religious stuff when we visit. If they do disown me, oh well. I survived being abused as a child by one brother-in-law (now dead). Now that sister isn't speaking to me becaused I had the temerity to suggest that her very depressed current husband should see a therapist. They can't suggest that I've insulted him, because I spent 10 yrs. in therapy dealing with what her first husband did to me.

As for holidays, we celebrate them, just not with religion. My husband is still a deist, but very anti- organized religion, so we agree on the no-religion thing.

I've found a Freethinker group and a Skeptics group here in Saskatoon, and that has helped me a lot. They have gone a long way to filling the need for that 'community' feeling I had when I was churchy.
How have you all dealt with your religious family members?
Well, I generally try to avoid them. I know that any contact with them will invariably end in them trying to guilt and coerce me back to religion. Maybe I'm just a weak person, but I can't handle it. The thought of having to turn to religion makes me suicidal.

Are you still in the closet?
I don't think I've told any of my family straight out that "I am an atheist", but I've hinted at it with my mother. They know I dislike going to church and doing other religious things. If my parents have half a brain between them, they've probably figured it out by now. The people I currently surround myself with know about my atheism.

Have they disowned you?
I'm having financial difficulties so I asked my mother if my boyfriend and I could stay in an extra room in their extra house. Mentioning my boyfriend was probably a stupid mistake, but I did it anyways. They have church-friends taking care of the place. Her response was that since I was "living in sin" I would be too much of a burden on her friends. Never mind the fact that my brother (who has no aspirations to do anything with his life) is living there already. At least he isn't a sinful heathen.

How do you handle holidays and family functions?
I don't celebrate holidays with my family. For a while, I actually refused to participate in any holidays. Now we just celebrate holidays and special occasions with my boyfriend's family.

Does anyone still have religious spouses?
N/A, but I would consider religion to be a dealbreaker for me. I just wouldn't be able to handle having to go home to religion every night.

I have to deal with religious family members. I'm the only Atheist in my family. The way I deal with them is not to talk about religion and avoid the subject. I try to avoid family functions and holidays I just hate - but I get through them.

The site is wonderful for me - because here I am free to be me.


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