Came out to my sister as an atheist
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05-05-2014, 10:47 PM
Came out to my sister as an atheist
So, almost 5 months after becoming an atheist, I came out to the first family member. My sister is a Christian, and her religion is literally the most important thing in her life. She posts Christian memes on facebook such as a praying person with the caption "fight all your battles on your knees", and she thanks god for sunsets. BUT, she is the kindest and least judgmental person I know, so I chose her as the first person to come out to. I didn't expect anger or rejection, and she didn't let me down.

First, a tip for anyone else trying to reveal news that might be emotional or controversial: The way NOT to set up 'the talk' is to call and say "hey, what are you doing this weekend? I'd like to talk to you about something". Because the person will say "about what?" and there is no way to avoid telling them because they are probably thinking you are dying or getting fired or pregnant or something. Even though you had envisioned sitting down face to face, and were planning to rehearse and think about it all week before talking to them Saturday, you'll have to go ahead and tell them. Even though you will have already written out a letter, read a book on coming out, and prepared yourself for some expected responses, it will be awkward as hell.

Regardless of the awkwardness, my sister was calm and awesome. She didn't lecture, cry, or try to drag me to church. She just said "I don't agree with you, but I'm not going to judge you". She did say she would pray for me, which is fine. Her husband is an atheist, and I learned she has atheist friends, so she at least knew we weren't baby eating, fire breathing ax murderers who rip ears off kittens for fun. We even ended the conversation with "I love you" and with a little joke.

I still have to tell the rest of the family and friends. My dad is going to be difficult. He'll love me no matter what, but he has a chronic illness and will deteriorate and die within the next couple of years. I was content to continue listening to him talk about god, and to let him pray when we went out to eat, so he could die without the stress of thinking his daughter was going to hell. However, my sister thinks he can handle it, and has volunteered to be there when I tell him. She thinks I should tell him to avoid the risk of being outed by someone else since I plan to tell a lot of other people. Still not sure whether to tell him or not. I am 100% sure he will cry. I'm 90% sure he'll ask what he did wrong to make me deny god. I'm 80% sure he'll proselytize (probably frequently), and he might very well ask his church friends to come pray with me.
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05-05-2014, 11:00 PM
RE: Came out to my sister as an atheist
Personally I wouldn't come out to your dad... For his own sake.

The whole "what did I do wrong" thing is quite common. In my background, those who raised a child who rejected belief in God were branded as "blood guilty", and were told they would be punished by God.

It all depends on what he believes... You don't want to frighten him when he needs all the comfort and support he can get.

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05-05-2014, 11:15 PM
RE: Came out to my sister as an atheist
Thank you for the advice Sam. My dad's belief is 'once saved, always saved', so he believes he will go to heaven regardless of having an atheist daughter. My fear is more for the distress it would cause him to believe the I will spend an eternity in hell. But for the risk of being outed by someone who talks to him and assumes he knows, it would be a no-brainer. I wouldn't even think of telling him. When I come out to friends on facebook, I'll block the ones I know to be gossipy and ask the others not to tell him, but you know how people are. My dad doesn't have internet access, but I would hate for someone to tell him anyway. I will have to give it a lot of thought.
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05-05-2014, 11:34 PM
RE: Came out to my sister as an atheist
(05-05-2014 10:47 PM)beeglez Wrote:  So, almost 5 months after becoming an atheist, I came out to the first family member. My sister is a Christian, and her religion is literally the most important thing in her life. She posts Christian memes on facebook such as a praying person with the caption "fight all your battles on your knees", and she thanks god for sunsets. BUT, she is the kindest and least judgmental person I know, so I chose her as the first person to come out to. I didn't expect anger or rejection, and she didn't let me down.

First, a tip for anyone else trying to reveal news that might be emotional or controversial: The way NOT to set up 'the talk' is to call and say "hey, what are you doing this weekend? I'd like to talk to you about something". Because the person will say "about what?" and there is no way to avoid telling them because they are probably thinking you are dying or getting fired or pregnant or something. Even though you had envisioned sitting down face to face, and were planning to rehearse and think about it all week before talking to them Saturday, you'll have to go ahead and tell them. Even though you will have already written out a letter, read a book on coming out, and prepared yourself for some expected responses, it will be awkward as hell.

Regardless of the awkwardness, my sister was calm and awesome. She didn't lecture, cry, or try to drag me to church. She just said "I don't agree with you, but I'm not going to judge you". She did say she would pray for me, which is fine. Her husband is an atheist, and I learned she has atheist friends, so she at least knew we weren't baby eating, fire breathing ax murderers who rip ears off kittens for fun. We even ended the conversation with "I love you" and with a little joke.

I still have to tell the rest of the family and friends. My dad is going to be difficult. He'll love me no matter what, but he has a chronic illness and will deteriorate and die within the next couple of years. I was content to continue listening to him talk about god, and to let him pray when we went out to eat, so he could die without the stress of thinking his daughter was going to hell. However, my sister thinks he can handle it, and has volunteered to be there when I tell him. She thinks I should tell him to avoid the risk of being outed by someone else since I plan to tell a lot of other people. Still not sure whether to tell him or not. I am 100% sure he will cry. I'm 90% sure he'll ask what he did wrong to make me deny god. I'm 80% sure he'll proselytize (probably frequently), and he might very well ask his church friends to come pray with me.

Whew, that's rough stuff, huh?! I am so glad your sister took it well.

My immediate family has known for a while. The rest of my family is all over the U.S, so we keep in touch on facebook. Nearly all of them are christians, and like your sister, they are always posting cutesy pics about the glories of god. Rolleyes

I raised my children in church. Sigh! But I didn't know any better. Anyway, they are now 18 & 24. When I fully realized how seriously flawed the bible was, I sat them down, and showed them just a few of the things, that I had discovered. They were absolutely fine with it. Their father had been extremely abusive, and used the bible for his rages, so I think they had already been hating religion for a while.

Yikes, I did not intend on hijacking your post. I apologize! Let me finish by asking you to please be careful, and very gentle if you tell your dad....due to his health. I understand how news like yours spreads, at the speed of freakin' light. Not an easy decision. Good luck to you.

It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled. ~Mark Twain
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05-05-2014, 11:51 PM
RE: Came out to my sister as an atheist
It isn't a hijack at all Cindy. It's pertinent to the thread! I am glad you and your children have a good relationship, and I'm sorry for the abuse you endured.
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06-05-2014, 12:02 AM
RE: Came out to my sister as an atheist
(05-05-2014 10:47 PM)beeglez Wrote:  we weren't baby eating, fire breathing ax murderers who rip ears off kittens for fun.

Laugh out load

I swear, every time I see this sort of thing, it gets more and more absurd!

Oh, right, support thread... uh.. Good on you and your sis.

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06-05-2014, 12:07 AM
RE: Came out to my sister as an atheist
(05-05-2014 10:47 PM)beeglez Wrote:  So, almost 5 months after becoming an atheist, I came out to the first family member. My sister is a Christian, and her religion is literally the most important thing in her life. She posts Christian memes on facebook such as a praying person with the caption "fight all your battles on your knees", and she thanks god for sunsets. BUT, she is the kindest and least judgmental person I know, so I chose her as the first person to come out to. I didn't expect anger or rejection, and she didn't let me down.

First, a tip for anyone else trying to reveal news that might be emotional or controversial: The way NOT to set up 'the talk' is to call and say "hey, what are you doing this weekend? I'd like to talk to you about something". Because the person will say "about what?" and there is no way to avoid telling them because they are probably thinking you are dying or getting fired or pregnant or something. Even though you had envisioned sitting down face to face, and were planning to rehearse and think about it all week before talking to them Saturday, you'll have to go ahead and tell them. Even though you will have already written out a letter, read a book on coming out, and prepared yourself for some expected responses, it will be awkward as hell.

Regardless of the awkwardness, my sister was calm and awesome. She didn't lecture, cry, or try to drag me to church. She just said "I don't agree with you, but I'm not going to judge you". She did say she would pray for me, which is fine. Her husband is an atheist, and I learned she has atheist friends, so she at least knew we weren't baby eating, fire breathing ax murderers who rip ears off kittens for fun. We even ended the conversation with "I love you" and with a little joke.

I still have to tell the rest of the family and friends. My dad is going to be difficult. He'll love me no matter what, but he has a chronic illness and will deteriorate and die within the next couple of years. I was content to continue listening to him talk about god, and to let him pray when we went out to eat, so he could die without the stress of thinking his daughter was going to hell. However, my sister thinks he can handle it, and has volunteered to be there when I tell him. She thinks I should tell him to avoid the risk of being outed by someone else since I plan to tell a lot of other people. Still not sure whether to tell him or not. I am 100% sure he will cry. I'm 90% sure he'll ask what he did wrong to make me deny god. I'm 80% sure he'll proselytize (probably frequently), and he might very well ask his church friends to come pray with me.

Hard to know what to do, isn't it.

I think about my father, who is still living, but who has stage 3 kidney disease, which to me says he's not going to be around that much longer, and although he is a high-ranking member of a pretty heavy duty batshit religious organization, I still remember to this day a brief conversation we had when I was very young -- maybe 10 or 11 -- in which, for whatever reason, I commented about something (which I can't remember now what it was), that "Well, you can't live forever". To which he replied, "Well, you are living your part of forever right now." Which seemed to me at the time, and still does, indicate to me, that he didn't *really* believe in all this afterlife/hereafter/eternity bullshit, no matter what he paid/pays lip service to.

It doesn't seem in any way "important" to me, for me to "come out", as an atheist, to anyone. Not for its own sake, anyway. I don't believe in Santa Claus or leprechauns or unicorns, either, and I don't feel compelled to point that out in casual conversation, unless some dumb fuck were to try to convince me that leprechauns are real. Or to legislate that I should believe in leprechauns...

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06-05-2014, 01:21 AM
RE: Came out to my sister as an atheist
(06-05-2014 12:07 AM)Taqiyya Mockingbird Wrote:  It doesn't seem in any way "important" to me, for me to "come out", as an atheist, to anyone. Not for its own sake, anyway. I don't believe in Santa Claus or leprechauns or unicorns, either, and I don't feel compelled to point that out in casual conversation, unless some dumb fuck were to try to convince me that leprechauns are real. Or to legislate that I should believe in leprechauns...

Hm, well said. I'm thinking I agree with this. Yes

It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled. ~Mark Twain
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06-05-2014, 06:42 AM
RE: Came out to my sister as an atheist
(06-05-2014 01:21 AM)CindysRain Wrote:  
(06-05-2014 12:07 AM)Taqiyya Mockingbird Wrote:  It doesn't seem in any way "important" to me, for me to "come out", as an atheist, to anyone. Not for its own sake, anyway. I don't believe in Santa Claus or leprechauns or unicorns, either, and I don't feel compelled to point that out in casual conversation, unless some dumb fuck were to try to convince me that leprechauns are real. Or to legislate that I should believe in leprechauns...

Hm, well said. I'm thinking I agree with this. Yes

I agree with Taq on this. I have no plans to come out to anyone, but no plans to deny if it comes up. It really does not change who I am or my relationship with people in my life. When I was catholic I never felt the need to tell people. I just go about my busness.
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06-05-2014, 07:32 AM (This post was last modified: 06-05-2014 07:43 AM by Mathilda.)
RE: Came out to my sister as an atheist
A lot of gay people come to realise that coming out is not a single one-off experience but something that they need to continue doing throughout their life because new acquaintances just assume that they are heterosexual. The same applies to being an atheist in a religious country.

The first step to being out is to respect yourself and be comfortable with what and who you are. Once you have achieved that then it doesn't really matter what other people think of you.
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