Being a closeted atheist makes me feel so paranoid around my parents
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17-04-2015, 12:40 AM
Being a closeted atheist makes me feel so paranoid around my parents
It's 1:30 a.m. and I can't sleep at all, so please excuse my sleep-deprived ramblings:

I'm visiting my parents this weekend, and they just invited me to go to church with them. I would usually just come up with an excuse to leave before Sunday, but this time it just feels different somehow.

The last couple of times that I visited them, they skipped church on Sunday morning and asked me "What do you want to do today?" However, I always felt like this was just their passive aggressive attempt to make me feel guilty, as if they were thinking "Well you're the one choosing. If you choose to keep us from going to church today, that's on you. You know what our choice would be, but apparently you don't care about us enough to ask what we would want." This was just my perception, of course, and I'm sure it didn't bother them nearly to that extent. Still, it felt so weird, because they just sort of avoided the topic of church altogether, though I could tell by their awkward silence that they wanted to bring it up.

So I feel like with this invitation, they're finally trying to be more direct with me; and you know what, I appreciate that. Up until today, it had been about 2 years since they had even asked me if I wanted to go to church. Maybe it's about time that I start being more direct with them, too. I just wish I weren't so damn nervous to start that conversation with them. Sometimes I wonder if they're experiencing the same thing as me, but from the opposite perspective, if the thought of their son being a non-believer and going to hell is the type of thing that keeps them up until 1:30 in the morning, too.

I don't know if I'm just trying to protect myself from my parents' disdainful judgement, or if I'm trying to protect them from their own irrational fears. Maybe a little of both Consider

If we came from dust, then why is there still dust?
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17-04-2015, 01:09 AM
RE: Being a closeted atheist makes me feel so paranoid around my parents
Hi there,

How often do you see them and for how long? Do you live far away? You could of course simply waste a sunday morning and go with them if it makes them happy, if it's not too often. Is there at least decent food afterwards? Or do you want to protest out of principle or because you find it too revolting and or are too affected by it emotionally that you want ti speak up?

Quantum Physics: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
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17-04-2015, 03:46 AM
RE: Being a closeted atheist makes me feel so paranoid around my parents
I think you are trying to protect them from a really hard reality! They have the fantasy that you need saving, and because they love you, they hope to do that. They want you to live with them, in Heaven, and can't accept that all their religious life is not real. I was honest with my parents. from the beginning. My father and I argued about it the night before his death. We fought, And the next time I saw him he was dead. I took care of my Mother for the last three years of her life and never lied to her about my atheism. I do still wonder if that was the right thing to do. BUt I didn't wait until the last minute. My parents knew I was an atheist, long before they died. I think you have to love them and face the fact they are blind to the truth.
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17-04-2015, 04:00 AM (This post was last modified: 17-04-2015 06:45 AM by Alex K.)
RE: Being a closeted atheist makes me feel so paranoid around my parents
Somehow my post didn't reflect your last paragraph and hence the point of your post, I think I overlooked it on my phone. Talk about sleep deprived ramblings.
So the question is not really whether you should go to church with them, but whether you should tell them. Well.

Have ever had a discussion about religion with them, about doubts and such? If yes how did they react to that - do you have some data which you could use to gauge how they would react if you expressed some doubts? (I mean, you don't have to go all out atheist on them straight away if it is strategically better to first test a bit how they react...)
You haven't given us much clue whether they are so devout that it would kill them if you were an apostate, or whether they just wanted you to go to church because it's an important thing for them socially and they want you to go to with them to share that, or to symbolize that you're a part of the family.

Quantum Physics: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
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17-04-2015, 05:35 AM
RE: Being a closeted atheist makes me feel so paranoid around my parents
One I heard from a fellow atheist once...

"My parents didn't know I was an atheist - and I really didn't want to tell them - as they're devout Methodists. So one day when the subject of me going to church with them came up, I told them that I was going to a Catholic church and was thinking about conversion. They freaked out and started begging me not to go. Finally I told them I was really joking- and I was actually an atheist.... They were relieved.."

He may have been yanking my chain.....

.......................................

The difference between prayer and masturbation - is when a guy is through masturbating - he has something to show for his efforts.
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17-04-2015, 06:44 AM
RE: Being a closeted atheist makes me feel so paranoid around my parents
Can you stand being someone that you are not when you're around them? Maybe acting classes would help you. Do they love you enough to have a relationship with you, even though you are a heathen? Are you ashamed to be an Atheist? Do they respect you? Maybe if they understood your reasons, they might re-think theirs. Who knows the whole family could break free of delusions. Why is it that you worry that they'd be unset? Shouldn't you be upset that they are religious? Who has the problem?
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17-04-2015, 07:52 AM
RE: Being a closeted atheist makes me feel so paranoid around my parents
If they are trying to be direct with you and want to bring the issue to a head, maybe the time is right to come out to them. I can just see hear it "mom, dad, thank you inviting me to go to church. You may not now this, but next week is openly secular day and in honor of this day, I have to tell you that I just don't believe in God, souls, the afterlife, and sin _ it is all rubbish. I can think of far better ways to spend our Sunday as family than going to church to hear some senseless dribble about how we are born defective, blah, blah blah."
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17-04-2015, 08:14 AM (This post was last modified: 17-04-2015 08:22 AM by cactus.)
RE: Being a closeted atheist makes me feel so paranoid around my parents
We went to a fairly progressive church when I was growing up, and my parents didn't really make a big deal out of it (at least not outwardly) when I told them I had stopped going to church in college. Whenever they brought it up, I would just sort of non-noncommittally talk about how I was getting used to living in a new place, the implication being that I was still planning on looking for a new "church home" and just hadn't found it yet. My mom would call me every weekend to remind me that she was praying for me, but also to tell me that my dad was literally having panic attacks at the thought of me living on my own, and that I should call more often so they'd know that I was ok. Confused

I've been out of school for a few years now, and I'm still only about 3 hours from my parents. I see them about 5 or 6 times a year. After I graduated from college, they were still calling me every week, asking me if I had found a church yet. I always answered honestly with a simple "no," and quickly changed the subject to talk about things I was doing at work, or backpacking trips I was planning with my friends or whatever, just anything to assure them that I was happy with my life. These days, whenever they talk about religion with me, they always talk about the positive things that they're getting out of it. They've stopped making the conversation about me, so I guess they've gotten a bit more comfortable with the idea of me not going to church.

Still, from the stuff my dad shares with his Facebook friends, it's kind of hard to judge how he'd feel if I outright told him I'm a "non-believer." He'll go from posting articles about the importance of a good science education and how important is that school kids understand the theory of evolution (yay, I approve), to posting these crazy hardcore right-wing articles about how secularism is destroying the foundation of our country, and how the Supreme Court is "out of control" for not upholding Christian values. WTF??? Facepalm Maybe he just likes getting riled up by these over-the-top articles, I don't know. He never talks about this kind of stuff offline, so I'm guessing he just keeps it to himself.

A few months ago I sort of "tested the waters" by sending an email to my dad about how I disagreed with something he had re-Tweeted about the importance of having a prayer at city council meetings. I was just like "Hey, you know there could be some Hindu and Buddhist people in the room. How do you think that makes them feel?" I was surprised that he seemed to agree with me. He was basically just like "Yeah, I don't 100% agree with this. You're right that we should always be mindful of other people's beliefs. I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable having to sit through a prayer to Allah." I was just thinking "Umm, ok, did he suddenly change his mind, or is he just posting this stuff because he thinks no one will call him out on it?"

If we came from dust, then why is there still dust?
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17-04-2015, 08:15 AM
RE: Being a closeted atheist makes me feel so paranoid around my parents
Going to church is honestly depressing to me. It's like watching otherwise functional and intelligent people be reduced to children who chant like a cult and receive ridiculous advice mixed in a grand fairy tale and take it as truth. When I see people start getting emotional I literally feel sick to my stomach. It's like watching a con-man manipulate somebody and not being able to do anything about it. I try to avoid going to church for this reason, and honestly it's one of the two reasons I don't like to visit my GFs parents (the other being distance). I can't tell you what to do, but I can at least relate.

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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17-04-2015, 11:08 AM
RE: Being a closeted atheist makes me feel so paranoid around my parents
It sounds to me like there is hope if your dad responded positively when you confronted him on the prayer at city council meetings tweet. Some of the conservative media (i.e. Fox News and the like) are all about rabble rousing and will willfully mislead just to get a reaction from from viewers. As such even moderate christians could be confused about the true nature of separation of church and state which is just a point of neutrality, not anti-christianity (as opposed to what the conservative media would lead you to believe). It seems like you could find some common ground with your dad by focusing on these examples.
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