As with any new thing in one's life, there is a honeymoon period where everything is perfect and life is better than it has ever been.  Now consider that I came to Atheism on my own and with little or no persuasion.  It took me years of becoming displeased with Christian morality, or the lack there of, before I was willing to accept foreign ideas.  My family and identity was so entangled with faith that I feared I would be set outside the fold.  To date, I have had very mixed reactions.  I first told my new friends at the West Alabama Free Thought Association.  I told a couple friends who are not religious and that went well.  I spoke with a very few others until later in the week.  I called a very very close friend, Christian, and was surprised with his answer.  He understood my points and accepted my decision.  Feeling particularly proud of his acceptance I then spoke with my brother.  We are very close and we talk about just about everything.  I love my brother and felt he should know the truth.  Honeymoon was over.  I was accused of being possessed with a demon and that when I was a Christian I simply wasn't doing it right.  He is now telling me to read passages within the Bible in order to reaffirm my faith.  He believes that this is simply a phase of my life.  Honeymoon is definitely over.  Another friend threatened to punch me because my discussion of Atheism led to my liberal political views which challenge his personal views.  In stark contrast I meet this amazing friend that accepts me and my flaws.  Quite frankly I'm starting to meet a lot of new people who think the way I think.  

This is a community that accepts me.  For years I felt like an outcast, the one person that thinks differently.  And it is true.  Coming from such a small southern town, if you are not a red neck, you are not accepted.  But there are beautiful people out there who feel like I do.  Who can hold an intelligent conversation other than hunting, guns and cars/trucks.  

I find that some of these people I've met are willing to not just look past the ugly parts of myself, but accept them as a part of a whole person.  This week was a roller-coaster.  I felt more good than not.  Even though family members are shunning me.  I feel loved and I am still not ashamed!



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Comment by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on July 12, 2012 at 11:59pm

Thanks for sharing your story. It's always painful to be condemned by your mother. I hope our virtual style friendship and support will help.

Comment by John Aultman on July 12, 2012 at 11:06am

I consider myself lucky that friends and family have never condemned me for being atheist.  As I've said before the people that feel uncomfortable with my atheism seem more afraid/confused than confrontational and stop associating with me. I believe some of their fear comes from meeting a person that is not afraid to question or point out the absurdities of their religious beliefs, maybe question or doubts they have but are afraid to ask. 

Comment by Alan Perlman on July 10, 2012 at 6:17pm

Jason, I am with you.  As in a divorce, you find out who your friends are.  A believer's reaction to apostasy tell volumes about the believer him/herself.  I hope the friends you find here wil make up for the ones who left you.

Comment by Tammy S on July 10, 2012 at 2:21pm

Welcome to your 'real' life, your 'truest' self Jason and this comes from another southerner raised in the bible thumpin' tradition, with a cyber hug! 

I was accused of anything from consorting with the devil, to being the devil herself... sadly, mostly by family members, some of my immediate family at first were very harsh toward me, even threatening, but after years of my not changing my M.O. around them to please them and 'get along', maintaining patience and calm in discussion no matter how heated they became, my immediate family (Mother/Father/Brother/Sister) would probably kill someone over me these days if they called me a devil worshiper in earshot of them again and strangely my Mom, though still a believer in god, no longer thinks of herself or lists herself as religious on medical/legal forms, she actually lists herself as 'none' in the 'religion' column of the medical questionnaires! I'm very proud of her!

The best thing you can do for yourself down here where they're hot to quote that idiotic book at every available opportunity, is know their bible better than they do, be able to quote instances of hate, bigotry and murder in the name of god or at the behest of god right off the cuff for when they come at you spouting religion. Try to remain calm and point out how their Jesus is definitely not love, nor is he tolerant, or accepting (is it any wonder they act like mad monkeys hopped up on pcp themselves when met with things outside their comfort zone of Jebuses Love)...  the guy made the disciples forsake their families telling them to 'hate' their mothers and fathers and follow him , he cursed a poor, little fig tree because it wouldn't bear fruit out of season for him and he was anything but meek, having a priest of an opposing sects ear lopped off by sword... frankly I'm not convinced he wasn't a myth himself to be honest, I think he's more of a compilation of stories about psychotic people with megalomaniacal tendencies personally! At first this approach will make them more angry with you, but when you can quote chapter and verse it does tend to get them looking trying to prove you wrong and they tend to get that egg on the face personality that rather than vocally attacking you, tends to sneer at you from the corner during the holidays, then if you're really lucky, they'll grow out of the need to try to control you.

Comment by Loren Miller on July 10, 2012 at 1:23pm

Greets, Jason, we're glad you joined us!

The business of coming out is as varied as the people who are here, so there is no one recommended way.  It depends on your own sensibility and what you think the advantages or liabilities are in coming out to any one person, as you have already seen, yourself.

Strength and self-knowledge are the ways you will get through the confrontations you're facing.  You have an absolute right to who you are, and there is no reason for you to back down.  Respect from your family may be hard to come by at this point, but the very fact that you came out to a known christian with no untoward result says that this issue is a long distance from fatal, something you might point out to your family.  They may hear it; they may not.

But again I want to say that I'm pleased that you're here.  There are many of us who will be glad to offer support and advice if you want/need it, suggestions for reading or videos to watch or just a place to be who you are without pressure or BS.  Speaking for myself, anything I can do to help, give a shout, please.

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