Since becoming an atheist I have definitely felt more free. It used to be that the only negative feelings I had were when my mother forced her religion upon me, but it was tolerable. But now I have another negative feeling-- fear. I have been an atheist for 5 or 6 years now, but I've only recently been really open about it. My immediate family didn't know until I was 16, and I am just now really coming out about it to my extended family. Since coming out about it, its caused a lot of tention in my family, and I am really afraid of losing them. I know I should feel that if they decide to distance themselves from me because they would rather put their invisible sky daddy above family that it would be their own problem, because the bible teaches unconditional love to your family (except for that one passage where jesus says to hate your mother and father if you want to be his disciple), and to love and accept thy neighbour. On the other hand, the bible teaches you to distance yourself from negative influences, and since I'm the black sheep of the family, I'm afraid that negative influence is me. I just love my family, even if they are all religious nutjobs, and I want them to feel the freedom that I have felt since becoming an atheist. I'm just afraid they are going to become ashamed of me or something, and distance themselves, and claim they still love me, but in reality are hurting me. I don't understand how they don't see that their religion hurts people they love.
Does anybody here have the same fears? Has anybody had to deal with losing people to religion?

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Replies to This Discussion

I don't see why you have to be alienated from your family. Just refuse to discuss your beliefs, or lack thereof, with them. You're the one who's free, not your family. Maybe it's not that easy; maybe they feel compelled to 'save' you, so they continue to harp on it. No matter, just stay cool. They'll get used to it sooner or later.
Brianna i understand your fears and understand the reasons why you have them , if your familys are really strict baptist types, then im not so very surprised why your do worry some.Maybe its best you should try not to push the subject to much, like some others have already suggested.

Yes i did lose mostly all of my own family due to their beliefs, and the lack of mine .So i know for real your fear maybe isnt so totally unfounded.
My personal experiences may not be relevant to your situation, but I have found that I am more likely to get respect for my beliefs when I show respect for the beliefs of others. I occasionally get the urge to indulge in name calling. It's even harder to avoid 'talking down' to them, or lecturing them. But I have learned that my family and friends do not respond well to that kind of behavior.
So these days I try to find the things I like about their beliefs (non-violence, strong family bonds, telling the truth) and instead of arguing about the points we disagree on, I simply tell them the things I admire about them. It is hard because sometimes they try to use it against me, but I refuse to take the bait and argue. Well, sometimes I take the bait, but whenever I do, it ends badly. So I find myself doing that less and less.
On the whole, my family has decided to accept me, and I think that is in large part due to the respect and love I show for them, even if I don't always agree with them.
its difficult because i'm not trying to provoke anybody. usually i just want questions answered, and they misinterpret this as arguing. sometimes i don't even speak to them directly (ie speaking with someone publicly on facebook, my facebook statuses, etc.). i feel like i'm overly respectful of their religion. my mom does a young adult group meeting every week and i always asked her how it went and i offered to bake something for it (when i lived there), and she'll say 'it went well. you know, you could join us if you wanted to.' i get a bit offended by this because its just another way she pushes her religion on me. i feel its unfair that they push their things on me so much, and i am expected to respect their beliefs, but then when i ask a simple question about their religion or post my facebook status as something atheistic, they get all defensive and accuse me of arguing.
When Christians who love you get pushy, you have to understand that they think you are going to hell and they do not want that. If I really thought my son were going to burn in hell forever, I would be doing a lot more than inviting him to church functions. I would be pleading and crying night and day for him.
This reminds me of a Seinfeld episode where Elaine is dating a Christian man and she gets mad because he is not trying to save her from hell. He said, "That's your problem."

I don't think you should allow the door to open even one inch. You should not offer to bake. You should not bring up any discussion remotely related to religion. That is what I am trying to do with my mother. I decided not to say, "I gotta go" whenever she mentions prayer because then she might think that I am uncomfortable about the word prayer because I really want to convert and it scares me to get close to conversion.

Instead, I am going to say "there is no one listening to your prayers. You are talking to yourself," or something like that. I may even tell her that I am telling her this because I love her and cannot bear to see her being conned.
But every aspect of my family's life involves religion. Not even joking. They are the exact opposite of 'sunday christians'. My sister puts up recipe cards with bible verses on the bathroom wall so she can memorize them. THEY'RE ALL OVER THE BATHROOM. How am I supposed to go about my day without at least acting a little bit interested in what they are doing with their lives?
I am so sorry Brianna. You are in a very difficult situation. You love your family dearly I am sure, but they are all infected with the God Virus. If you haven't read The God Virus by Darryl Ray, I suggest you do so and treat this think like a virus, because you can still love your family dearly. I am sure you would not stop loving someone because they were sick.

This may be tough, but I might suggest to your sister that you feel offended by the bible verses in the bathroom. Ask her how she would like it if you posted atheist quotes in the bathroom. Ask her if she thinks it is fair that your rights are violated just because you represent a minority in the family.

You look pretty close to college age. I hope you can get out of there soon and begin a life free of the God virus.
I have actually just recently moved to a different town and I am planning to do some upgrading in the fall so I can work towards becoming a science teacher.
The bathroom bible verses bothered me, but I never complained because it was my sister who cleaned the bathroom, not me lol.
And I've heard about the God Virus and am planning on finding it once I finish the God Delusion.
@ Rudy
I'm not trying to be antagonistic, but do you really think that telling people that there is no one listening to their prayers is going to get them to stop or think or change? I just cant see these types of response helpful to our cause. I think that makes people burrow in like ticks. I think we want open dialogue or at least make them think about what they're saying. It took me a long time to come to this. I'm halfway finished a with a book called "50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God" (or something like that) by Guy Harrison. I agree with his philosophy about confronting people. He and I believe that the best way to engage believers is to ask them questions.
Recently I had a discussion with my wife (she's a believer) and she said she doesn't want my soul to burn. I kindly asked her how she knows I have a soul. She was unable to respond. I asked a few other believing friends the same question and the all gave the same answers. They all said, "its what I believe or Its what I was taught"
I think that making them think and answer my questions in kind and respectful ways can go a long way.
I agree that if you want to convert someone to atheism, you should not tell them God does not hear your prayers. If you want to convert someone, you should meet them where they are and ask probing questions about specific bible verses to plant seeds of doubt.

However, in the situation with my mother to which you referred, L.Hunter, I do not attempt to meet her at her spot. With her, I am simply trying to defend myself against her verbal abuse. That's right, it is verbal abuse to keep talking about God and prayer to your atheist son and expect him to sit back and take it without being able to express the boiling feelings inside the son. I need to stop her in her tracks before she goes any further and remind her that I don't believe in prayer.
I guess I just take it as a loving mom trying to save her beloved son from eternal fire. I remember being so devout that I also wanted to save the world from eternal punishment. I remember and can identify with how your mom feels about her son. When people tell me that they are praying for me I don't take as an insult, I actually say thank you. I realize that people want to 'feel' as if they are actually doing something. When people get sick we have the urge to do something. We say we'll (actually they) pray for you. I'm not insulted, i understand and am flattered that they think enough of me to want to do 'something'. We had this song we used to sing at church, "Somebody prayed for Me, had me on their mind and took the time and prayed for me".
I'm glad they still love and am concerned someway.I realize they are wasting their time but its the thought that counts sometimes. But everyone's family dynamic and situation is certainly different and I can respect your relationship w/ your mom.
its one thing for them to pray for us, but its another thing to give god credit for things we've worked hard to achieve. i know my mom has done that on more than one occasion. specifically i remember when she was thankful to god for getting my promotion, and talking about god answering prayers, but then it turned out the promotion was one of the worst things that could've happened to me at the time. thanks god.




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