Coming out
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21-04-2012, 02:36 AM
Coming out
So I'm getting to the point in my life where I think I need to notify my family of my recent realization of my life long atheism. I've read and listened to Podcasts about the subject of "coming out" of the atheist closet, but I haven't really found much practical advice. What is the easiest way to break it to my family of right wing pentecostal nut job family members, while still trying to at least show empathy for their beliefs and how I feel about the freedom to select whatever religion they choose?

Thanks!

publius2k4

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." Carl Sagan
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21-04-2012, 02:48 AM
RE: Coming out
Depending on how your family is, I would say be as diplomatic as possible. If a family can understand that you're a good person because you want to be a good person, because you can be a good person, not because of religion... they're more apt to listen. If you can bring it up in a fashion that isn't forceful or angry or upsetting I think it makes it easier.

I think when you tell people "Hey I'm an atheist" (at least in parts of the USA or other places where there are few of us) people feel threatened and upset. I think most of that is that people don't really understand it, or bother to understand it, therefore they go off of what they've been told. Which thus far in my experience from what I've heard from some people in my family is that we're horrible, sinful, evil people who just want to trick Christians into sinning more and keep them from god and we're the most deceitful people out there and that's our life mission, etc etc...

My parents still hold onto some parts of Christianity, they have a hard time letting it go (I think mostly they are afraid), but claim to be agnostic. I think the easiest thing was for me to just sit down with them and have a good talk. We've talked about it multiple times with me and my parents and me and my wife and it was always a healthy sit down talk over coffee and philosophy and what we think about the world. I try not to get defensive and if someone gets upset I just tell them I'm not trying to offend and if they like, we can end the conversation and continue when they are ready.

I think keeping things on a clean slate not only allows it to be easier for them to accept it, but also easier to listen and who knows, maybe they'll even prod and poke you for it should they ever have their own doubts and you can have one of "those" moments with them.
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21-04-2012, 02:55 AM
 
RE: Coming out
You're 26. You don't have to tell your family at all. You could just go and live your life any way you want to.
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21-04-2012, 03:00 AM
RE: Coming out
You mean close family right? Brothers, Sisters, Parents etc. Other than them I see no need - unless you're particular friends with cousins and aunts and uncles. Also making it an Announcement makes it a Big Deal Tongue Try to just let it slip out would be my way of doing things. Mind you I didn't tell my parents for years, only when I was home last year for a while it came up as a conversation topic. Did cause alarm and consternation though - for the first time in my life Mama subjected me to religious debate, which was a bit like getting savaged by a duck, to steal a phrase from Terry Pratchett.
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21-04-2012, 04:04 AM
RE: Coming out
i suggest writing a letter.
this way you can be sure to express yourself clearly and cleanly without getting interrupted
you could also use an email but it loses some of the effect i think.

even the smartest man in the world is an idiot
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21-04-2012, 07:30 AM
RE: Coming out
(21-04-2012 02:55 AM)Egor Wrote:  You're 26. You don't have to tell your family at all. You could just go and live your life any way you want to.


Absolutley. There is no reason you have to be or do anything, except be an adult.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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21-04-2012, 09:13 AM
RE: Coming out
Egor is right, you do not have tell your family. I live in a very liberal area and many people still get shocked when you tell them you're an atheist. From your description of your family I would expect a hard time from them I could be and hope I am wrong). Is this something you feel needs to be confronted and are you willing to deal with the fallout?

" Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous."
David Hume
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21-04-2012, 09:50 AM
RE: Coming out
If you have dropped away from religious observances, they probably already know (even if they won't voice it) that you have moved away from religion. If you are still going through the motions on their behalf then I would start cutting those things out of my life.

Chances are good that you aren't going to change their minds so I would suggest NOT attacking their belief system. As they get more used to the idea, you may be able to have some debates or discussions where you can explain why and what you believe or don't believe.

Let them know you still love them but you aren't going to just blindly follow what they believe because it's not an honest representation of who you are.

It could turn out badly or you may be surprised that their love for you is most important.

After I voiced my non-belief...my dad admitted to his. He was making us kids follow Catholicism because he thought he was supposed to...with his parents gone, he was able to let it go.

I'm not anti-social. I'm pro-solitude. Sleepy
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21-04-2012, 09:57 AM
RE: Coming out
I agree with Egor - why upset them? You are an adult, you can live your life any way you want. Take your time, evaluate the pros and cons carefully, I think you'll find that it is really immaterial to your relationship. Being religious or not doesn't define us, it just seems to when we first become aware.

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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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21-04-2012, 10:05 AM (This post was last modified: 23-04-2012 02:00 PM by arbmouser.)
RE: Coming out
I would encourage you to tell your family. If we are to remove the stigma of atheism it is going to have to be by coming out and showing people we are not horrible, immoral criminals lurking in the shadows. Your family might not like it or understand at first. Hell, in all probability they will be upset for a wile if they are very religious. But you are their family, and they will get over it. And the next time someone attacks an atheist or the secular community, be assured they will have your back. This helps us all, and you won't have to carry a worry or feel guilty you are hiding something.

My parents always knew I didn't take church seriously, and never really bought into the crap. But when I spoke of not believing they always brushed it off as if I was playing or not really meaning it in my heart. It never bothered me that they ignored my atheism, but it did seem kinda mental. Anyway, I love tattoos and have quite a bit. When I was 28 I got a tattoo that professed my atheism. It covers my inner forearm. That made them pay attention, and we had a nice conversation. Smile
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