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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yeah wouldn't it make more sense for god to have prevented the building from burning down in the first place?
Well said. I believe the point is to make them think and turn over ideas that we wrestled with in some ways. The point is to force them to actively and critically think about what it is they're saying.
Im sure that many of us who were coming out of the proverbial closet, shared you fears of losing family and friends. I came out about four or five years ago and fortunately I haven;t lost a friend or family member. Considering that I was a minister i was especially anxious. Many have asked me 'why' and I had a few email debates with many. However non of them refused to speak with me. Recently I had a cookout for my son's 8th grad graduation and many came.

This is certainly a major problem when it comes to 'coming out'. The bond of religious faith and community is strong. Humans are social animals and we need community, family and love and a support system. This was one of the last hurdles that I get to get over before announcing my disbelief.
All I can say is that I hope and loving family members and true friends will see that you are the same person and that believing in certain things doesn't change who you are. The problem is theirs, not yours.
Sometimes I don't blame people for not coming out. The loss of families and in some communities your jobs can be devastating. I really do hope that we as atheistic community can change the opinions of others and get them to see beyond their own prejudices.
"If they are very important to you maybe you can do some kind of
compromise? You keep your atheism but reinterpret it to be inclusive
of religious myths as part of being human. You could become a kind of
cultural 'believer'."
I have tried this and it works alright if you are not angry about being duped as a child. Personally, I have a lot of anger about what religion did to my life, and all for naught, because God does not exist.

When I am put in a religious environment such as a church, angry feelings come up and if I do not express them, they get suppressed, which is not good for one's health. Therefore, I do not go to church, even for the family. Also, I do not let my mother talk to me about prayer or God unless I can express my opinion right back at her.
Just like religions and denominations, non believers have different ways of non belief. Many are aggresive, some not. Others are antitheists, agnostics, atheist, and term that evades me right but means don't know and don't care. While I'm happily married to a believer today, I could be with a fundy again.
I agree with you Rudy and I'm angry about what religion did to me as well. I'm even angry about what religion is doing to my family and friends. I see them frustrated by crooked preachers who steal their money. I see the struggle they have to keep giving money to ridiculous causes. I see the time wasted reading an ancient book that isn't applicable today.
I also get angry when I enter a church for funerals, weddings or some special event. But these are my friends, they chosen to stick by me and I've chosen to stick with them.
I meant I could NOT be with fundy again.


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