This past New Year's, I made a resolution to come out as an Atheist to my Fundamental Christian parents.

Easier said than done.

We've always been a somewhat non-confrontational, passive aggressive family. The "Big Conversations" often never happen, and when they do, it is usually after years of painful silence.

I am even more non-confrontational than my parents. I would rather chew broken glass in most situations than be faced with anger, tears or family drama.

As such, I've been struggling with this coming out thing for months. How can I do this without the drama, and without causing undue stress and pain to my parents? Should I go the "Dan Barker" route and send a letter? Should I have an unheard of "Big Conversation" with my parents, which in no scenario in my head ever ends well?

I decided that "easing" them into the subject in an indirect way might be the best option.

I am VERY "out" on my social networking pages and personal blog. I am somewhat vocal about my lack of belief even at work, though for obvious reasons try to avoid causing excessive offense to my coworkers and superiors.

My parents have internet access, and have mastered email, instant messaging and to some extent, online games.

Yesterday, I took a big step. I queued up my Facebook page, typed in their email addresses and clicked "Invite Friend". As we speak, an email is sitting in their respective in-boxes; a gateway to revealing my whole self to the people who gave me life, and a catalyst for dialogue in which I can possibly explain my positions and why I hold them.

When they click that link and register an account, they will see a representation of who I am. They will see that I am a liberal. They will know that I am an Atheist, a Pastafarian and a Secular Humanist. If they stick around for a few days, they will see my opinions, my thoughts and my rants about plenty of subjects, including religion. They might even see my Show-Me Skeptics and Show-Me Pride Facebook groups, which further indicates my ideas and my activism.

If they choose to refrain from clicking the link, I will be back at square one: figuring out how to have the "Big Conversation".

Now begins the waiting.

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Comment by Lorien on June 22, 2010 at 4:26pm
You can also say that you learned the truth about the universe, science and knowledge that they never had at the time (Lie to them about that) and offer to teach them what you learned.

They will obviously refuse to listen and change their belief unless they see more examples of people leaving religion. Curiosity may get them to think and it is so easy to find the answers on the web today.
Comment by Richard Healy on June 22, 2010 at 3:29pm
... and a link to my profile on Atheist Nexus.

I sometimes wear my 'periodic table' "teach the controversy" T-shirt to college; when people ask me what it means I tell them. That's always fun.
Comment by deletedsoul on June 22, 2010 at 3:25pm
@Lorien The T-Shirt idea would certain get the ball rolling. That or my shirt from attending Gay Pride this summer. Hmmm. :-]
Comment by deletedsoul on June 22, 2010 at 3:11pm
@Richard Thank you! I'm on my way to being as out and proud as you.
Comment by Richard Healy on June 22, 2010 at 3:09pm

On my facebook profile under religious views I've got:

"Godless Heretic, Atheist, Rationalist, Anti-theist, Free-thinker, Naturalist"

(Out and proud)
Comment by deletedsoul on June 22, 2010 at 2:40pm
@Lorien, great question about why it took so long for me to tell them. It's a two part answer. The biggest reason is that I don't want to cause undue pain or make my parents feel like I am somehow punishing them for wrongdoing. Even though I do still have some parent issues I will likely be working through for the rest of my life, and religion is somewhat intertwined in that, my stance as an Atheist is mostly seperate from that, and isn't a parental rebellion or means of lashing out at them. Knowing my parents, they are going to take this news very, very personally and will very much be hurt by it no matter how it is sliced.

The second reason is fear, plain and simple. When around my parents or communicating with them in any way, I tend to regress to that guilt ridden 15 year old who was too afraid to stand up to my parents about anything, because of the psychological climate of the home. When I would try to decide a way to tell them, I still had the gut wrenching feelings of guilt and shame that makes me procrastinate telling them anything they might disagree with.

An illogical fear, but a very real one I am still working through.
Comment by Greg Lammers on June 22, 2010 at 1:31pm
I think it is important for as many of us to be "out" as possible. The more of us that are, the better for us all.

Congratulations, you've taken a big step. I hope that it all works out as well as you could've hoped. :)
Comment by Lorien on June 22, 2010 at 1:28pm
I just read a little more about you on your blog - your link in your blog didn't work.

You were raised in a very closed environment so congrats for escaping that delusion.

Atheist T shirt still sounds like a good idea if they don't see your facebook page. Good luck.
Comment by Lorien on June 22, 2010 at 1:17pm
Just wear an atheist T shirt to a family gathering or your next visit. That will get the discussion started. What took you so long to decide to tell them?



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