Coming Out As an Atheist.
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23-10-2010, 09:51 PM
 
Coming Out As an Atheist.
Hello all, this I'm sure has been discussed somewhere on the forums, but I have a certain situation and I'd like some tips to coming out as an Atheist to my family, or even if I should. Here is some of my background information.

I'm currently 16 years old. I was raised as a Catholic my whole life. My mother and Grandmother are both extremely religious. I have gone through all of the regular sacraments that a 16 year old would have gone through growing up in a Catholic household. I was a practicing Catholic my whole life, just until about last year or so. Last year I became extremely interested in science, Cosmology in particular. I began doing a lot of research and looking into the origins of our universe, learning about the Large Hadron Collider and just various things about our universe. I'm now quite knowledgeable in Cosmology, minus the mathematics part of it. As I was looking into these things, God just became something that made less and less sense with every line of text about physics I read. I now do not really believe in God at all, though I always have a little tiny spot for "God" just because of the fact that I was raised my whole life believing in him. My real issue now is coming out about it. A lot of my friends know that I don't believe in God anymore, but I have not yet told my family. I'm not sure if its a good idea to tell my mother, simply because she is just so religious, I really don't know how she would handle it. So that's why I'm here asking you guys, should I be telling my family about this now, wait to tell them, or just not tell them at all? If I should tell them, how should I go about doing it? I'm a very open minded atheist. If someone gave me any type of solid believable proof of God that could be supported, I would believe in him. Thanks for the help.

-Anthony
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23-10-2010, 10:53 PM
RE: Coming Out As an Atheist.
(23-10-2010 09:51 PM)Cosmology Wrote:  Hello all, this I'm sure has been discussed somewhere on the forums, but I have a certain situation and I'd like some tips to coming out as an Atheist to my family, or even if I should. Here is some of my background information.

Welcome to the forums, Cosmology. Glad to have you with us, and we'll help in any way we can. We can't do much other than offer moral support, but if you need someone to vent to, we're good listeners.

Quote:I'm currently 16 years old. I was raised as a Catholic my whole life. My mother and Grandmother are both extremely religious. I have gone through all of the regular sacraments that a 16 year old would have gone through growing up in a Catholic household. I was a practicing Catholic my whole life, just until about last year or so. Last year I became extremely interested in science, Cosmology in particular. I began doing a lot of research and looking into the origins of our universe, learning about the Large Hadron Collider and just various things about our universe. I'm now quite knowledgeable in Cosmology, minus the mathematics part of it. As I was looking into these things, God just became something that made less and less sense with every line of text about physics I read. I now do not really believe in God at all, though I always have a little tiny spot for "God" just because of the fact that I was raised my whole life believing in him. My real issue now is coming out about it. A lot of my friends know that I don't believe in God anymore, but I have not yet told my family. I'm not sure if its a good idea to tell my mother, simply because she is just so religious, I really don't know how she would handle it. So that's why I'm here asking you guys, should I be telling my family about this now, wait to tell them, or just not tell them at all? If I should tell them, how should I go about doing it? I'm a very open minded atheist. If someone gave me any type of solid believable proof of God that could be supported, I would believe in him. Thanks for the help.

-Anthony

This isn't an uncommon situation, so don't freak out.

Number one, you don't need to worry about your family's reactions, unless they are really super-religious. Only you can make that call. Will your family shun you if you don't believe what they do, or are they loving and willing to accept you for who you are?

In the case of the former, you may want to speak to LeviTimes, who has gone through some tough times with family and friends since coming out as a gay atheist. He should be able to offer some advice. If the latter, though, try just being honest. Make it clear to your family that you are still the same person you always were, that you still love them, and you aren't going to attack their beliefs as long as they respect yours (or lack thereof).

You'd be surprised at how well that worked for me.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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24-10-2010, 01:57 AM
RE: Coming Out As an Atheist.
Hey there! Like Unbeliever said, I would be more than happy to talk with you or advise you if you need help with a super-religious family. My family is deeply entrenched in right-wing conservative fundamentalist Southern Baptist ideology and it was really terrifying coming out to them, but I found that letting it out while it was in my control rather than letting it get found out later was the better option, since while it's in control you're the one that can think it out.

Now, I did it the chicken way through Facebook, not in-person, and it was probably best like that, seeing the amount of opposition I've been met with. But don't worry too much! Only a handful of friends have abandoned me, and that was after coming out as both an atheist and gay. Tongue The relief you will feel at not having to hide anymore GREATLY outweighs the grief--but you probably will have grief.

It's wonderful that you've found a community of like-minded people beforehand! I struggled with finding one after I did, and as soon as I came here the first thing I did was explode my experience in a long rant. Tongue It will be a REALLY emotional time, so a community to back you up is a necessity!

Good luck, mate, and please feel free to get in contact with me in any way if you'd like to!

"It does feel like something to be wrong; it feels like being right." -Kathryn Schulz
I am 100% certain that I am wrong about something I am certain about right now. Because even if everything I stand for turns out to be completely true, I was still wrong about being wrong.
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24-10-2010, 04:28 PM
RE: Coming Out As an Atheist.
It's never an easy thing to really do but honestly it's better to as Levitimes put it come out on your own terms.

I just sat down with my father and put it flat out that I cannot believe because with the knowledge I had gained through university it was truly impossible to be fact. The moment you apply critical thinking to Christianity it falls to pieces.

Growing up both my parents would very regularly go out and preach to those in homeless shelters who would have to sit through their whole performance for a meal. (If charity reliant on faith is truly charity is another issue).

Amazingly not only did my father listen but came out himself as an Atheist shortly thereafter. By coming out as Atheists we put a real fact to Atheism to those who know us. It's easy to hate Atheists or have ill informed opinions when you don't know one face to face. By putting real faces on the fact we shatter myths about it.

Sadly my Mother has driven herself further into the hole of religion. When I tried reading the Quran to her when I came out to show how I saw Christianity now she had no idea that it was the book of the Islamic faith. I realized quickly that truth was not of a large importance to her but we still enjoy a great relationship.

Coming out as an Atheist can be hard but the rewards are outstanding and there is possibly no better way to know who your real friends are other then bare truth.
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24-10-2010, 05:42 PM
 
RE: Coming Out As an Atheist.
I feel very lucky. My parents aren't particularly religious. I just had a 1 hour debate with them at the end of which they practically conceded. They don't really make me do anything anymore.

My mom did cry about it a lot. She was more concerned with a cultural abandonment on my part than a spiritual abandonment (She doesn't really believe in God either). I don't know how this would work as a Catholic. If you can ensure them that you will still partake into the cultural element that may lighten the shock.

You might also want to consider coming out away from major holidays so it isn't on their mind as much. If it doesn't affect your life, you might not want to come out at all.

The most important thing to remember is that you have to remain the non-combative side. They may say things to you, but you should never, ever question their beliefs or say anything to them that isn't respectful, despite what you may truly think. I told my mother that I respect her religion (I don't), and that she should similarly respect my lack of religion. I also cited that the US (I don't know where you live, but many nations allow religious freedom) allows religious freedom, and so I am legally entitled to my own beliefs (just don't be combative about this).

Ensure them that this revelation won't affect you or your attitude towards them at all.
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24-10-2010, 05:48 PM
 
RE: Coming Out As an Atheist.
I can't advise, since I haven't "come out" to my family yet, and probably won't for a while. I'm just not ready to lose everyone I love. I feel for you, and I wish you the best.
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24-10-2010, 05:52 PM
RE: Coming Out As an Atheist.
Quote:She was more concerned with a cultural abandonment on my part than a spiritual abandonment (She doesn't really believe in God either).

Funny, I'm more than 2X your age (probably close to 3X .. man that's upsetting) and I've the same problem with my mom. She doesn't care if I believe in God or not, but she does feel that my culture and heritage are worth preserving. For that reason, I send my oldest son to Hebrew school, plan to send my youngest next year, and currently plan to have both my kids Bar Mitzvahed. I actually disagree with my mother about the whole "preserving the culture" thing but I don't feel strongly enough about it to take a stand that will disappoint her.

I figure my need to not upset my parents outweighs my desire to wash my hands of all aspects of religion. My parents have always been there for me my whole life, they are getting older, and I see no point in needlessly upsetting them. So, I play along on this issue.

My sister, on the other hand, is incensed that I have all but "abandoned my Jewish identity". This has been a source of some friction between us. I don't belong to a temple, don't do anything for the holidays, and it really drives her crazy. I love my sister but, unlike with my parents, I don't feel like I owe her anything much less something that I fundamentally disagree with in every fiber of my being. So, sis takes it on the chin. I'm actually ok with that.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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24-10-2010, 09:16 PM
 
RE: Coming Out As an Atheist.
(23-10-2010 09:51 PM)Cosmology Wrote:  My mother and Grandmother are both extremely religious. I have gone through all of the regular sacraments that a 16 year old would have gone through growing up in a Catholic household. I was a practicing Catholic my whole life, just until about last year or so.

This all seems eerily familiar to me, my friend. I'm 18, and I came out as an atheist last year, although I had my first doubts of religion when I was around 15. I was raised Catholic by my parents all my life, even got confirmed and everything.

Trust me, coming out is complicated, especially when you have family members that are die hards. My grandmother won't even talk to me anymore, but my parents were a bit more understanding. My dad excepts my atheism as my choice and respects me on my moral perspective more than my religious one. My mom is of the opinion that this is one of those "rebellious phases" all teens go through, and clings to the hope that I'll come back to her view of reality.

The truth is that it's never easy to tell loved ones that you don't believe in the god you were raised to believe. They're going to try to convince you otherwise, there's no doubt about that. The only thing you can do about that is be persistent and respectful. In the end, if they truly care for you, they'll expect your decision as your own, despite their opposite views. Just stay the course, man. Be the person you want to be, not the person others want you to be, and you'll be happy.

Good luck with the rest,
Trevor the Atheist Dinosaur
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25-10-2010, 01:55 AM
 
RE: Coming Out As an Atheist.
Unbeliever has offered pretty decent advice. I "came out" to my family at age 16, and as posted on another thread, everything turned out all right ... my family never stopped loving me, and vice-versa. Although my mother accepted my atheism reasonably well, I know she died still hoping that I someday would "return to the fold." I understand that it would be awful to find out that by telling the truth about your beliefs, some in your family would reject you. Clearly the choice is yours to make. If you don't do it now, you can do it later, but living a lie is always uncomfortable and will become difficult to conceal forever.
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25-10-2010, 07:21 AM
RE: Coming Out As an Atheist.
(24-10-2010 09:16 PM)TrevorTheAtheistDinosaur Wrote:  
(23-10-2010 09:51 PM)Cosmology Wrote:  My mother and Grandmother are both extremely religious. I have gone through all of the regular sacraments that a 16 year old would have gone through growing up in a Catholic household. I was a practicing Catholic my whole life, just until about last year or so.

This all seems eerily familiar to me, my friend. I'm 18, and I came out as an atheist last year, although I had my first doubts of religion when I was around 15. I was raised Catholic by my parents all my life, even got confirmed and everything.

Like I said, this is very common. I'm nineteen, and told my family about my atheism four years ago. I was raised Catholic, Confirmed, went to Faith Formation, and all that crap.

There are a lot of Catholics out there, and most people really start to think for themselves when they're teenagers, so this is a pretty frequent occurrence.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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