Ambushed and alone
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12-03-2012, 07:31 AM (This post was last modified: 12-03-2012 07:46 AM by JLMomma.)
Ambushed and alone
My family is very devout Pentecostal Christian. About a year ago, I admitted to my mom that I didn't believe in god at all. I didn't even mean to. We were having a conversation and my aunt asked me straight up. For so long my mother and I have had and unspoken "don't ask don't tell" kind of thing going on that it took me off guard. I'm a terrible lair especially when caught off guard so I just said it.

Since then I've felt more free to slowly start sharing my support of the atheist community by liking things on facebook and even occasionally posting. I've come to believe that it's important since there could be other people in my family hurting the way I did and I want them to know they aren't alone or weird or awful. My parents have remained silent through this time but the tension has been building and I knew it was a matter of time before we'd have to discuss it and they'd have to push for conversion.

Yesterday I went to my parent's place for lunch. When I got there I had just put my salad on the counter when my mom pulls out this book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell. They tell me that this guy was an atheist and now he loves jesus and that if I just read this book it will prove it. As if the secret evidence that proves the bible is hidden in this 1970's book. I promise to read it anyways and hope to move on but no such luck.

The talk continued for like an hour even though I continually tried to change the topic. I'm given a few opportunities to defended my stance occasionally but pretty much just got preached at the entire time. If 18 years of forced indoctrination didn't do the trick what else can be said? I finally got out of it when my outraged father said "where in the bible does it say THAT?!?" and I said "I'm not sure I didn't write up a report. I thought I was coming for lunch." My oldest brother showed up with his family right then and suddenly they snapped out of it. She said "Yes, your right, you did come for lunch" and pretended nothing happened.


The whole incident did rattle me though. Mostly it just brought to light a lot of the issues that cause me to feel anger towards religion and christianity to begin with. It is made in such a way that it doesn't allow them to agree to disagree. They either have to distain or pity those who disagree.

It hurts me that I will be nothing but a disappointment and their biggest regret because I can't believe what they do. No matter what I achieve, how great a person I become, my lack of belief will over shadow that in their minds.

It also makes me so mad that they can just randomly attack something I have took so much time and energy to figure out. Just right out mock it and say it's stupid with no support to the claim. Then when I calmly try to explain what why I believe it they accuse me of being angry or crossing lines and being offensive before I can even get two sentences in.

I tried to vent all of this to my husband (non practicing christian) when we got home last night but he doesn't understand at all. He doesn't get why I even care what other people think. If I could stop caring I would! Then he does the exact thing that I said upsets me.

dh- history is stupid anyways it's not like you can prove Caesar existed
me- Of course you can!
dh- no you can't. he's dead. you'll never meet him.
me- There's ways to tell if someone or something existed like eye witnesses and...
dh- why are you getting so angry?
me- You are kidding right?

I just walked away. Not two minutes after saying that this very thing pisses me off he does it! WHAT?!?!

I'm so sick of this. I'm 29 years old with a family of my own. Do I really just have to pretend to agree with everyone in my life so that I don't have to be accused of being angry and combative and rebellious? When can I just be honest and be me? I feel so very alone.
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12-03-2012, 07:41 AM
RE: Ambushed and alone
They are acting that way because they love you. They believe they are right and you are wrong, and they love you enough to try and protect you from that.

It's annoying, I know. My parents do stuff to my wife and me that can be annoying; however, we both know they aren't being malicious. They think they're being helpful, and they are being "helpful" because they love us.

My advice (and I know it's hard) is to just ignore it. They are the way they are and you are the way you are. Let them say their piece, even if it steps on what you believe. I've learned that being at odds with your family is best avoided at all costs.

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12-03-2012, 07:49 AM
RE: Ambushed and alone
don't talk about it for a really long time, it's amazing how time can make people stop being angry about something. When that happens, then you might be able to talk to them about it.

One thing I learned about talking to your parents about things they hate is speaking like you aren't the problem, talk about atheism, not about you being atheist, talk about religion, not about they being religious. That way, the touchy part of the situation is not present in the conversation and things can be spoken without being offensive. the sad part is that you can't share your own feelings, but it's a fair price to pay for being at peace with your family Confused

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12-03-2012, 08:08 AM
RE: Ambushed and alone
You are not alone. Nor do you have to agree with everyone. Different people handle it differently.

As a parent I can't imagine a belief that my children would hold that could override my paternal love for them. I may not always agree with them or like decisions they make, but we are all free to make our own decisions. Having to conform out of guilt or family pressure or social stigma is one of the strengths of the religiously dogmatic. It is only by standing up in such a situation that others may feel the need to follow suit.

Whether it is within your family, your community or your church, you are a pioneer. You have replaced superstition and belief with logic and reason. Do not be ashamed of this.

The dynamic of the relationship with your parents will change, but at the moment it is all still new to them. Let them make their efforts, do as you already have and just politely go through the motions and defend your own position as you see fit. Over time they will come to realise that you are not going to change. At this point I would think it will either become a mute point, or there will be some level of acceptance on their part. As you say, you have reached these decisions through time and energy, but until recently they were unaware how serious you were about it so they do not probably realise this. Who knows, they may even look into atheism for a better understanding of your position.

In the meantime I would try to make sure you have a few succinct answers ready for the questions that are most likely to be thrown at you.

As for your husband, I wouldn't be too hard on him. If it is something that holds no real interest for you then you can't be expected to be insightful on the matter. You should however be able to expect support from him regardless of his level of knowledge.

Hang in there, people that don't subscribe to any particular religion are growing in numbers quicker that any of the religions.

We are always accused of being angry and combative, largely because it is ingrained that any word spoken against a deity or religion should be instantly scorned as disrespectful. This is just to stop people questioning (including the believers) what they say, maintain your politeness throughout and eventually your points will get home. Someone can only accuse you of a falsehood so many times before even the most brainwashed can see that it obviously isn't the case. If after several of these type occurrences you are still accused of being combative you can clearly state that you haven't once raised your voice, cursed or interrupted them then it will become harder for them to assert such rubbish.

Hang in there, the truth is far more important. You are serving the greater good of humanity by exercising your intelligence. Doing anything else would be doing yourself a disservice. Hopefully one day your parents may see this.

Good luck.

"Belief means not wanting to know what is true"
Friedrich Nietzsche
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12-03-2012, 09:36 AM
RE: Ambushed and alone
Oh, I can so relate!

With a similar story of being cornered in conversation, I have learned a very valuable skill- boundaries. There are certain subjects I just will not talk about now. I either clam up or literally walk away (amazing how I can all of a sudden have a very full bladder so many times in a row on some family visits!). I refuse to engage in conversation that is one sided now. If I am not equally heard or respected, then that topic is not for me. There are many many MANY other things to talk about and to do, so that's where it lies now.

I love my family, like you, and it sucks to have these feelings, though. The other day my mom asked if I could at least baptize my children so she can be at peace for them if something happens (catholic). She wants to see her grand babies in heaven. She said she stresses over it and worries. That is a huge guilt placed on my shoulders for her peace of mind. And I love her. I want her to be happy. But seriously?? My 7 year old would be so incredibly confused and it would be weird. I have to think about her wellbeing, too. It sucks to be stuck, and to be so displeasing to the people who are supposed to be our biggest fan. It has taught me a lot about my relationship with my own two daughters though.

Many many people feel this way about many different things- sexual orientation, career choice, mate choice, lifestyles.

Those moments are so awkward and stressful, when we are cornered. Sad I agree with nach_in, that the distance of time can help a lot.
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12-03-2012, 11:21 AM
RE: Ambushed and alone
Next time you see them they will ask if you read the book. Just say you haven't gotten a chance yet but it's on your list of priorities.

It can stay there Smile

BTW if I were you I would not read it, it's going to be loaded for you because of the personal nature of your relationship with your parents.

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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12-03-2012, 11:40 AM
RE: Ambushed and alone
Man I can relate too Sad

I hate that they trot out the same stupid stuff. Here's a stupid book. I've read the stupid book and it's stupid. You haven't understood. You should read more carefully. This is your soul we're talking about. The book is old news to me. Nothing in there is going to turn me into a Christian. Anyway, why can't I be myself. Oh you know we love you. Just I can't bear the thought of you going to hell. Please just try read it one more time with an open mind. My mind is wiiiiiiiiiiiide open and I saw nuthin'. Anyway, that's what you said last time.

^%$^%$ guilt trips. And I know my mum lies awake at night thinking about this shit Sad So damn over it.
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12-03-2012, 11:48 AM
RE: Ambushed and alone
The problem with christianity is the fact that nonbelievers are eternally condemned.

Of course, your parents wants you to go to heaven, not hell.

Even though it is not your belief, they believe that nobody gets away from the wrath of God.

This is one of the reasons why christianity is so strong even today, as you are encouraged to force your beliefs on your friends/family, so they too can be saved.

I understand that you are upset, but you don't have to take it out on your poor husband Wink
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12-03-2012, 12:21 PM
RE: Ambushed and alone
(12-03-2012 07:31 AM)JLMomma Wrote:  ... angry and combative and rebellious? When can I just be honest and be me? I feel so very alone.

I don't see any problem with being combative and rebellious.
Even getting angry and weeping / rocking insanely in your seat can be advantageous... evidence that you have been pushed too far.

My approach would be to say how you feel but tactically it would be best to get your antagonists to pause and think about what they are doing i.e. demonstrate your empathy with them to elicit empathy from them e.g. don't say "you are upsetting me", instead say "I know you are saying these things because you love me and think I have taken a wrong turn and (never say "but") I wondering if you know how this makes me feel?" or even "do you know how alone I feel?".
Then wait for a response.

Don't interrupt their tirades as this just stokes the fire.

You won't reach any form of peace in one step so maybe preparing for your battles using problem solving theory might be useful e.g.:
Storming, Norming:'s_s...evelopment

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12-03-2012, 02:19 PM
RE: Ambushed and alone
I would read the book. Why not break it down. If your father wants to know where in the Bible, look it up. He'll probably have his own version. If you don't find what you were looking for, don't be afraid to admit wrong. Try to be truthful... One thing about being truthful. Sooner or later, no matter how far you get with a discussion, it will get to a type of cosmological argument. When you get to the beginning of the universe and everything known, you want to study what we do know, but realize that we don't know what is before a certain point. There is nothing that we have now that can get us past that point. We may never get past that point... the honest way to answer what is past it is that we don't know. Something could have been here forever (probably something, but nothing we know of... doesn't mean it was a deity or anything intelligent which seems highly unlikely). Either way, for deep discussions, you need to know that stuff, because it will come up. Find out the difference between hearsay and trusted sources and why you would believe something by a qualified scientist in their field than someone telling you about something that seems highly unlikely... You will probably get the whole "we all have faith" stuff, and knowing what is faith and what comes from trusted sources and why they are trusted sources and why they aren't faith, but more like higher on the statistical probability scale due to the predictions. Same with driving. I love how people say you have faith for driving. If that was the case, then I wouldn't constantly watch for adverse behavior of other drivers. You build trust that others will follow the law and that trust is violated when someone breaks the law. If nobody followed the law, then you wouldn't have a high trust of others driving. Many things that people take on faith are complicated systems that we build over time and they can't or don't want to understand.. because it works. That's fine, but if they pull the faith in everything card and give examples you are going to have to learn to break it down for them. Like I said, don't be afraid to say you don't know. you won't know everything. They shouldn't expect you to. They certainly don't. Religion is a human invention and humans are good at knowing humans. Don't expect that you'll be able to change their minds about their own religion.... It might be best to avoid confrontation like others have pointed out, but keep things in mind, because they will probably come up from time to time. If you don't have something ready for them, tell them you will think it over. Then do that. That or tell them you don't want to discuss it, if you don't. If they don't want to stop, then try to get away or something... If they continue, this happened with my sister, expect them to start with the "why are you angry" thing again. Even if you aren't, still reply with "I just told you that I didn't want to have this discussion now" or something. You will probably get painted into a corner at times. That's fine too. The best way in everything is to think things over. If they are throwing tons of stuff your way, latch on to one thing and think it over while they are going through everything... ignore everything else, because you can't do a term paper while trying to discuss something at real time. Slow step-by-step.. Don't try to convert or start conflicts or discussions (because if they are sensitive, any discussion will be a conflict), but don't simply bend over and take it either.

Hmm, watch some ACA (atheist experience). Get involved in atheist meetups also if you can. It helps to have like minds to discuss things with. As far as the atheist experience show (I say ACA, because I was part of them when I was in Austin) there is some good advice they give. If they continue to want to talk about religion, then be ready, but I wouldn't bring it up. Don't be afraid to point out that they are better then their own Bible, because they choose not to follow Deut 13 or something. If they say it's out of context, then ask them what they mean and how they know that. Try to probe them about their beliefs if they go into yours. You might be surprised that they are different then what you think... probably then what they think. Make them tell you their beliefs to the detail if they are probing you. Might as well, if in that situation. Get as detailed analysis as you can from them. Never assume that you know what they believe, even though they are your family. Ask them about Noah, 6-10 thousand year old earth, see if they believe... if not why or why not. If they believe in a literal or interpretive Bible, why or why not.

hmm, I guess you can also find some joking areas also. Like you believe in the FSM creation or something. That we eat babies.. well, that might not go over so well. I think it would be funny, but never tried it except with other atheists. I'd like to see a theists response. They might be horrified.. I might laugh too hard at them.

Uh, not sure if I had any good advice...

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