Letter to my family (Feedback welcomed)
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08-07-2016, 12:50 PM
RE: Letter to my family (Feedback welcomed)
Glad to hear it. Your situation sounds similar to mine. Just love her as you so and show her that being a good loving husband does not require a supernatural magic man. In terms of the isolation, I hear that. Many of us have no other outlet than a forum like this.

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
- Paul Dirac
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08-07-2016, 01:35 PM
RE: Letter to my family (Feedback welcomed)
It's really difficult for people to truly understand religious deconversion, unless they've actually experienced it for themselves. Like your cousin said, it sounds like your family is empathizing with your situation in the best way that they can.

Religions thrive on mischaracterizations of "the other." Now that your family has you as an example of this "other," hopefully it will help them to reflect on some of their own preconceptions about non-believers in general. It goes the other way, too. Now that you've experienced the reactions from "outing" yourself to some of the people you care about the most, future "outings" hopefully won't be as stressful. Thumbsup

If we came from dust, then why is there still dust?
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08-07-2016, 03:12 PM
RE: Letter to my family (Feedback welcomed)
First of all a late welcome from me too Smile

You showed a lot of courage to formally come out to all the people you love. You got balls man.
Can I ask though, are they now bringing it up a lot and trying to pull you back in or are they mainly letting you be?
I am asking because if they are making you feel uncomfortable by ignoring your de-conversion or by trying to make you join the faith again, you might have to reinforce your message.
Maybe just by having a drink together and finding out if they have questions that you can answer or by clarifying things like the definition of "Atheism" or what it means for you to be agnostic and such things. Just to put them at ease. You know if they feel less guilty/pressured/worried, you will have it much easier too Smile

Keep us posted Smile

"Freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2=4" - George Orwell (in 1984)
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08-07-2016, 05:16 PM (This post was last modified: 08-07-2016 05:20 PM by RocketSurgeon76.)
RE: Letter to my family (Feedback welcomed)
Tree, first of all, that letter is fantastic, especially with the recommended changes. I'm sorry it went badly for you.

I went through a very similar situation with my (heavily fundamentalist, Southern Baptist) family, on a few occasions. It didn't go as well as yours seems to have gone, and in the end I had to cut off contact with all of them for nearly a decade-- to this day, my own siblings won't speak to me, blaming me for destroying the family when I left. This aspect of religion hurts a great deal-- it hurts me and it hurts them, by closing their minds and making anyone who doesn't agree with their ideas or who won't accept the abuse generated by the culture of Christianity against those who disagree into an enemy. I really like my brother and sister, and it pains me every time I think of it... but they show no willingness to reconcile, so long as I remain an outsider. As they point out, even Jesus said he came to put a sword of contention between families, and they see accepting my POV as treason to the faith... even though I'm only asking them to tolerate it and not belittle me for "thinking I'm so smart" (whatever that means), and stop badgering me to rejoin the clique. I'm not saying all Christians are like this-- my wife is one, but also an evolutionary biologist, and we have zero issues about it-- but her parents are also leery of having an atheist in the family, now that their daughter and I have two children together, even though I'm letting her raise them in the church. They constantly seek to undermine me in her eyes, using Bible verses from Paul about nonbelievers, but she stands up to them with other verses. I married a great woman.

My parents eventually reconciled with me--they're coming to visit me in a week, actually--and we have developed a close relationship again. Unfortunately, we still had to go through the stages of badgering and my responses to it, the most recent being when my father last came to visit, and asked how atheists can be moral without God. Yes, asked un-ironically. I had to explain to them that I am an atheist not only because it is my conclusion that the religions of mankind are false and I have no evidence for any other sort of god, but that I cannot worship a god who would ask me to subvert my intelligence, and I get angry at anyone (human or god) who asks me to be anything other than intellectually honest... especially humans who tell me an almighty Creator wants me to forgo the use of the big brain my ancestors evolved, in obeying rules written in the name of god by Bronze Age goat herders. I told them that if there is a god, then either that god will love me for being honest, or will despise me for failing to worship-- but that I would not choose to worship such a being, even if I knew it was real. Once they grasped that this was not simply an offhand decision I had made, but an inevitable conclusion, it became easier.

It may never go away. I hope your experience is better than mine has been, but you should be prepared to absorb a great many emotional punches, shots your loved ones may not even realize they're throwing at you. Remember that the things they say are meant in love, even if they sting, and to try to accept them in that light so you do not get hurt or angry about it. Try to help them understand that things done in love may nevertheless be harmful; if they love you, and I'm assuming they do, they may in time grow to understand that their attempts to "help" are unwarranted and unwanted.

I wish you all the best. Try to hang around this forum a bit more... we could use all the well-spoken writers and thinkers like you we can get!

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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08-07-2016, 05:17 PM
RE: Letter to my family (Feedback welcomed)
Can I ask though, are they now bringing it up a lot and trying to pull you back in or are they mainly letting you be?

They have worried over the years due to my changing viewpoints on social and political views which caused them to ask and worry about my spirituality with god. I do plan on meeting with all my family over coffee to go over as much questions they have for me as I can. I will know more by then on how it will all go and anticipate those conversations to go over well since we've built a platform in our relationship to discuss conflicts etc.
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08-07-2016, 05:25 PM
RE: Letter to my family (Feedback welcomed)
(08-07-2016 05:17 PM)TreeBrother Wrote:  Can I ask though, are they now bringing it up a lot and trying to pull you back in or are they mainly letting you be?

They have worried over the years due to my changing viewpoints on social and political views which caused them to ask and worry about my spirituality with god. I do plan on meeting with all my family over coffee to go over as much questions they have for me as I can. I will know more by then on how it will all go and anticipate those conversations to go over well since we've built a platform in our relationship to discuss conflicts etc.

My siblings simply don't speak to me anymore. We had some pretty heated words when they got too aggressive with their emotional blackmail, and I got too aggressive in defending the LGBT community, and that has been the end of it. I have tried to reach out, every few years, but it seems they don't want to hear anything more from me unless I'm back in the herd. That's what religion does to fanatics (which is ironic, because at one point my sister claimed to be Wiccan, before she married a youth pastor, and my brother went through a phase where he claimed to be an "Ijustdontgiveafuckist"), such as the recent story I read about a woman who didn't even attend her own mother's funeral because her mom had left the cult religion, years prior.

But no, to answer your question, I am rarely hounded about it, anymore. Mainly, I just have to force myself to be quiet and not reply on Facebook when my extended families post inane religious shit there... though I will throw in a Snopes article from time to time, just to try to keep them honest on the more egregious stuff.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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08-07-2016, 05:25 PM
RE: Letter to my family (Feedback welcomed)
G'day TreeBrother, and a belated welcome from me too. Smile

I thought your initial letter was perfectly framed, and conveyed your reasons for de-converting very clearly, calmly and appropriately.

Personally—and although I was raised by conservative Methodist parents—I've never had to go through this sort of "process" as, somewhat surprisingly, my parents happily accepted my dismissal of anything to do with religion when I was in my early teens.

Also surprisingly, my mum turned her back on Christianity relatively late in life—around her seventies. I could never figure it out, but I think it had a lot to do with her eventual realisation and non-acceptance of the churches' hypocrisy in the latter years of the 20th century when its dogma was causing so much obvious social unrest and violence across the globe.

Anyway... I'm more than happy that you've taken this step, and it's been—overall—accepted graciously by your larger family. As devout, life-long Christians they've possibly had just as high a hurdle to overcome as have you in getting their collective heads around your complete disavowal of religion—particularly after 34 years.

As far as your dear wife goes; another whole ball-game I'm afraid. But definitely not one that can't be won by the ninth inning. Tread gently and tread slowly. Try not to let your agnosticism or her theism form the crux of any/all of the future arguments/debates you may have. And if she pushes the religious hard-line, then just bite your tongue, back off and let her know you'll consider what she says. But... I don't think it's productive if you were to attempt any counter-argument from an agnostic standpoint—you'll only potentially inflame the discussion.

And I know it's gonna be difficult on your part, but as they say, "discretion is the better part of valour". For the longer-term sake of your relationship, it's gonna have to be you that makes a few compromises; ones that may well go against the grain, but it'd far more difficult for your wife to make similar compromises—if not impossible in the shorter term.

And also bear in mind (as you probably do already) that neither theists nor atheists have a monopoly on intellectual prowess.

I'll wish you well mate, and please let us know how things progress. Thumbsup

I'm a creationist... I believe that man created God.
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08-07-2016, 06:26 PM
RE: Letter to my family (Feedback welcomed)
Syz,

Thank you for your advice. I will gladly accept it and do my best on how to handle my relationship with my wife. Thank you.
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