Reaction from friends and family
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31-05-2009, 07:16 AM
Reaction from friends and family
My family members are all devout Christians.

I was, until a few years ago, when I could no longer abide the inconsistencies and atrocities in the bible, and in Christianity as a whole.

This year, after a long period of silence, I announced to family and friends that I was an atheist.

My parents are devastated. Siblings and friends attempt to evangelize me with books, articles, stories about "miracles," and lots of talk about Jesus when I happen to be within earshot.

But nobody has asked "why" or "how" I came to this decision. Mostly, everyone's just pounding the pulpit on an earnest mission to rescue me.

Has anyone else announced their apostasy? What was your experience? How did you react and cope? Did your family ever come to respect your decision? Did you lose your old friends? Did you have to start new relationships with like-minded people? Are you ostracized from your family?

I'd certainly like to hear from others who've experienced this.

-Ed

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07-06-2009, 09:28 AM
 
RE: Reaction from friends and family
I was a devout Christian for about 9 years. I was about as hardcore as a fundy could be.

Long story short, I finally realized one day that everything that I thought God had provided me, was only available to me because I had worked for it.

This started a chain reaction that led me on a search for the truth. I tried to look at both sides of the fence and make an educated decision as to what I believed. I had decided that I was no longer Christian, but still what many consider to be agnostic.

After a lot of researching around on the web and reading secular books, I finally decided that I was an atheist. Faith was no longer enough of an answer to keep my belief in a personal God.

When I finally outed myself as an atheist, most of my family freaked out and thought that I was just angry at God. I was met with message after message about why God loves me and why he must exist. Finally after refuting their simple arguments for God, many of them stopped talking to me.

And sort of like your situation, most of them didn't bother to ask why, rather they just tried their damnedest to save me. For some reason, they thought that I had just woke up one day and decided I hated God and refused to worship him anymore, when it was anything but that.

It took about 6-8 months to fully come to terms with my lack of belief, but today, I am completely comfortable with it and talk about it to any one that asks me. In fact, I am finding that there are more atheists than I had ever realized in my area, and I live in the bible belt.
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15-06-2009, 11:36 AM
 
RE: Reaction from friends and family
I am a fairly rare atheist-christian-atheist, but I can honestly say that the decade I spent as a devout christian helped me to understand what's so appealing about it all. I always felt left out when other kids talked about the bible- I knew the stories were silly, but I just didn't know what they were talking about. They didn't either. I was "preaching atheism" in second and third grade, haha. Later, in my teens, my mother (who was a catholic-atheist-methodist-baptist) started missing church for some reason and so we started going to a methodist church. I loved her, so I tried to make the best of it, and I earnestly sought. I figured I was never going to hear from god since I had been active in turning people away from him, and most of me still questioned whether anyone was really there. But I prayed, and prayed. Nothing.

It happened one day that she died in my arms quite unexpectedly at 46, and my life went reeling. I drank a lot, ended up in jail several times for DUIs, and (Hallelujiah!) finally had my jailhouse conversion- complete with a personal visit from God! The next decade was the most satisfying, get-all-your-questions-answered period I had experienced thus far, and it felt good to finally "belong". I believed my dead mother was watching me and knew I had finally seen the light.

It all started unraveling when my 14 year old daughter said she didn't want to go to church anymore because they said mean things about gay people.
Shocked, I denied it. She implored me to listen better, and she was right. We fizzled out on church, but maintained some vague god belief- some supreme intelligence overseeing things.

Then the attacks on 9/11 left me scrambling for answers again, and now I had The Internets. I learned about a lot more than my government- I started asking people for real answers about how and where christianity began. I learned about the Council of Nicea in 325ad and from there immersed myself in a several year study of religious historicity. By 2003 when we invaded Iraq, I was an atheist again, but this time it was because I had an adult's understanding of the world, and what personal accountability really adds to my life. I still don't drink, and I don't need to believe in god to accomplish that.

I realised that the god I had been praying to was me. I could be no other way, it came from deep inside my own subconscious mind, and I comforted myself with this imagery- and it worked. Until it didn't. I didn't lose my god, I came to appreciate and respect my own brain, and the amazing coping mechanisms we all have. Now I study neurobiology in my spare time, freed from the bond of superstition that have been such a leash on mankind as a whole.
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15-06-2009, 11:56 AM
 
RE: Reaction from friends and family
Hello!

I know I should have posted this bit in the Welcome section but I will tie this in with my experience of announcing to my parents that I no longer believed in god.

I was a devout Catholic, went to a private school, church on Sundays, prayed, and never questioned anything about god or else I would get disciplined by my parents or told that I would burn in Hell if I did by my teachers.

It was up until grade 11 I took a gander at Genesis. It then hit me like a gamma ray burst that it was all WRONG. The Earth wasn't made in 7 days, it isn't 6000 years old as claimed by creationists, and there was a bunch of other stuff in the Bible that was appalling and just plain contradictory. I was in awe that over a billion people believe in this work of fiction and say it is the true word of a spacial, noncorporial being, who seemingly loves us all but then throws us into hell like trash into the trash bin if we do not obey.

It was then on I dove into agnostic theism (I still believed in god but that quickly went away) a watched and read material on god and Christianity. It then occurred to me the logical fallacies of such a god and I kept watching many atheist videos and Christian videos. It looked as if these Christians (primarily on youtube) are delusional.

I soon converted myself to agnostic atheism (I would also accept being called an atheist).

When I told my parents this, they were mad as hell. Especially when I took out the jesus and mary related idols from my room. My dad was very stern with me and eluded to the "fact" that I would go to hell if I didn't believe but I did see it in his body language. My mom was also distraught, she cried. It hurt me as well, but that isn't going to make me a believer again.

I tried to talk with my mom about my perspectives on god but she could answer my questions, all she said it was just "faith". From what I know, faith is just blind trust with no evidence to back up that trust.

I then talked to a priest at the request of my mother in hopes that it would reignite my faith. In fact, it did the exact opposite. It just hardened and solidified my belief that all religions are false, manmade, faulty, and so are their gods and goddesses.

I'll just copy/paste from another forum I go to about my meeting with the priest:

""
Just came back from the meeting at it simply confirmed and cemented my atheism.

I asked him questions such as "If God is so powerful, could he make a stone that he could not lift it?"

"If God is all knowing and know the future, past, and present, doesn't that say we don't have freedom of choice because it was already known by God?'

And some other questions I had he didn't bother answering. Like the theists on youtube, I let him talk and talk. I was waiting for an answers to my questions but I didn't get it.

I bought up the issue of morality, truth, intelligent design, origins of life, etc.

All I got was rambling.

I already knew this meeting would be tedious and long and it was.

The most interesting this was his body language. Thanks to the television show "Lie to Me", I paid attention to his body language. His overall body language told that he doesn't really want to talk to me, he can't answer my questions because he knows that he can't give an answer that would satisfy me, he wanted the meeting to end quickly (kept looking at the telephone clock on the LCD screen), and he didn't really like my questions and possibly guts since he slowly moved away from me during the entire meeting (he was in one of those chairs with wheels).

I was surprised that he has never heard of abiogenesis and how it was verified by recreating RNA. I also noticed as the conversation went on and as I pressed him more, he took more time to construct his words carefully.

I did find a few contradictions in his arguments. One of them that I could remember is that god gave us freedom of will to do what we want. But then towards the end of the meeting, he said we are not in control of our lives, god has a plan for me.

He also mentioned that if there was no god, life would be meaningless.

Sprinkled and drizzled with some other weak theistic arguments.

He mostly did, again, dodging my questions and speaking for a long time as if he is answering them.

I asked him "Why did god make the flood to kill all that he created?" Didn't fully answer that one.

I also mentioned that the people who didn't understand certain concepts were initially "explained" by religion but were later replaced by actual scientific theories. The abiogenesis theory being one of the big ones in my view.

I am also starting to notice that creationists, fundies, and what now are using scientific theories and observations as proof for God. I could say there is grass on my yard which can be verified by taking pictures of it for its existence and that proves pink unicorns exists because they are horses and horses eat grass . . . like creationists say that because the DNA is complex, has been observed, and studied; there was a god who designed it.

This meeting got me no where far, just made things for cement for me.





However, when I talked with my former physics teacher who is an atheist himself, I felt the greatest relief after talking with him. I felt the need to talk with an actual human being about my journey. On the other hand, after the meeting, I was indifferent, nothing changed.

So, I guess to those theists out there, I'm going to Hell, Lakes of Fire (I hope the fish are spicy), River of Styx, etc etc because I don't believe in their god.

Someone out there hates my guts just because my road is different from his/her. I am an infidel to someone and everyone is an atheist to someone elses's god.

Good job god, you created me and I have left your superstitious belief system because of the contradictions and what not that made me question you in the first place. Please, show me some other way to make me believe you because praying to walls won't help. Oh yeah, that was the advice of the priest, I should pray for a one to one communication with god.

But don't put me in a perilous situation in which that will force me to believe you (god) because I noticed that you would have to put people in pain to believe you. Or put people in pain to test their faith.


And about when I die, I don't know where I will go. But I DO NOT FEAR IT but I am VERY curious to where I would go, if anywhere. Energy has to go somewhere, doesn't it?

""

Well, that's my atheist adventure so far.
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15-06-2009, 12:19 PM
 
RE: Reaction from friends and family
(15-06-2009 11:56 AM)RtFusion Wrote:  And about when I die, I don't know where I will go. But I DO NOT FEAR IT but I am VERY curious to where I would go, if anywhere. Energy has to go somewhere, doesn't it?

After reading your wonderful awakening story I felt compelled to reply, firstly to tell you 'what a great story' and secondly to respond to your "where I would go".

My view is that we are simply a bag of minerals and water operated by neurological impulses, just like every other living creature on this planet, we just have an advantage of evolution. When we die we cease to exist, there is no soul, the impulses stop and we return to the base elements from which we came.

So no worrying about what happens after, that's a scare tactic employed by religions to bring you into line, and keep you in line. The church is little more than a Mafia mob, operating the same tactics of fear and extortion to keep them in a style you could only dream about.

No god - no heaven, no devil - no hell.

Pete

P.S. I started another thread "What was your route to atheism" because I didn't have to come out, I was born into a non-religious family, so this thread didn't seem to fit my circumstances.
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27-06-2009, 09:47 AM
 
RE: Reaction from friends and family
(15-06-2009 12:19 PM)Sarge084 Wrote:  
(15-06-2009 11:56 AM)RtFusion Wrote:  And about when I die, I don't know where I will go. But I DO NOT FEAR IT but I am VERY curious to where I would go, if anywhere. Energy has to go somewhere, doesn't it?

After reading your wonderful awakening story I felt compelled to reply, firstly to tell you 'what a great story' and secondly to respond to your "where I would go".

My view is that we are simply a bag of minerals and water operated by neurological impulses, just like every other living creature on this planet, we just have an advantage of evolution. When we die we cease to exist, there is no soul, the impulses stop and we return to the base elements from which we came.

So no worrying about what happens after, that's a scare tactic employed by religions to bring you into line, and keep you in line. The church is little more than a Mafia mob, operating the same tactics of fear and extortion to keep them in a style you could only dream about.

No god - no heaven, no devil - no hell.

Pete

P.S. I started another thread "What was your route to atheism" because I didn't have to come out, I was born into a non-religious family, so this thread didn't seem to fit my circumstances.

My story is pretty much in that section as well, but most of my family knows that I am an atheist, but they just don't believe it. I really don't care if they do or don't, I told them once and they can take it or leave it in my eyes. The only person that doesn't know is my grandma, but she knows that i denounced the church a long time ago. To this day, she still thinks that I am christian, but I prefer her to think that because it just makes things easier in the short run while she is alive. Guess you can call me a hypocrite, but that is just one person that I really have no desire to let know about what I truly believe.

Oh yeah, one other thing, I did get the preaching to, the beating up from the local youth ministry, and being disowned by the neighborhood, but things pretty much leveled off about a couple years ago, after 13 years of isolation from them.
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15-07-2009, 04:16 AM
 
RE: Reaction from friends and family
Hi guys,

Found this site through a little film about Christian Suzie. Nice one by the way.
To stick to the thread, my family isnt exactly impressed by my atheism. The family consists of quite a devout evangelist/fundy sort of christians and would prefer me to be a fellow believer of course, but they respect my choice.

I am truly amazed by what I read here, the desciptions here with reference to phrases such as "coming out" and "remaning in isolation for 13 months" make it sound like being an atheist is really a big deal. Now I should explain a bit, I'm from western Europe and I already got the impression from blogs and shows and online films etc. that christianity is a lot "hotter" in the US than here, but is it really that bad?
For example, the origin of the species is pretty much accepted as a scientific fact and is taught in schools everywhere over here, is that different in the parts of the US you come from?
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16-08-2009, 04:42 AM
 
RE: Reaction from friends and family
I am from Europe too (the Netherlands) and I highly recognise the posts. Religion is important to many of my family members, both spiritually (i.e. they get comfort from the idea that someone is with them all the time) as well as socially (church and friends). Since I like my family I need to find a way to handle religion. My family knows I don't believe. They rather think of me as an agnost rather than an atheist, but either is fine with me. My parents are doing extremely well in handling that. With my family I try to avoid sensitive topics or to argue on certain religious topics. I have the strongest cards in hands, so I am probably going to win the discussion. It won't stop them from believing anyway and only result will be a growing distance between them and me.

With friends I am more searching for discussions. Luckily many of my male friends have serious doubt. Sometimes outspoken, sometimes silence. Many of them are being married to wonderful Christian women. They judge consciously, or more likely subconsciously, it is not worth speaking out loud. Their marriage, family and social network will seriously suffer from that. I sometimes think they do not allow themselves to ask certain critical questions. How else do I explain that these smart guys still believe?

Anyway: Nice site. Often atheist carry hate/grudge towards religious people. That doesn’t help at all and disturbs potentially valuable relations. Ridiculing Christions too much does often more bad than it does good.
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15-12-2009, 09:16 PM
RE: Reaction from friends and family
My family reaction situation is a little weird. My mother, when she found out, panicked and basically broke down. She still believes that I'm using the definition of "atheism" wrong, as she was taught by her early childhood teachers - nuns - that atheism means devil worship.
My father, it turned out, was actually an atheist with me, and had been for a long time. He pretended to believe because it was my mother's wish that we would be raised Catholic.
My brother is the only other member of my family that knows about my atheism. He kinda picked up on it. How I'm not exactly sure.

As for friends, they all know. Most of them don't care. Only one of them does, in fact - and that's because she's a hardcore young-Earth creationist.

"Sometimes it is better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness."
- Terry Pratchett
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04-01-2010, 02:47 PM
 
RE: Reaction from friends and family
Again, I really am amazed at what I am hearing. This is such heartbreaking stuff. I guess I never realized how difficult it is personally and socially to outrun the lies that have been clinging on to your heels your whole lives. In a way I feel lucky that I've never been burdened with this, but at the same time it makes me realize that I haven't been as empathetic as I would be if I had known this was going on in people. I gotta say I really honor and respect people who have gone through this and have come out upright. There are so many cases of people battling this demon that end up hurting themselves and others or completely destroying lives. Denial is a powerfully destructive force. The destruction manifests itself in ways that are most often unseen and a person never quite figures out what's wrong. In extreme cases it reaches critical mass as in the case of Matthew Murphy that was in the news on Dec. 8th back in 2007. He was the kid who shot and killed several people at two different churches on a rampage in Arvada Colorado. One of the churches was the New Life Church where Pastor Ted Haggard was recently disgraced in a sex scandal (another sad case). This poor kid was home schooled by extreme Christian evangelicals who tried everything to break him of his own ability to see through the lies. After destroying those lives and his own, the only thing these religious leaders offered was that he was controlled by Satan. And most newspapers disregarded this as just another disturbed person. Well the whole thing disturbs me deeply.

That's why I'd like to honor each of you who made the conscious effort to distance yourselves from the very institutions that provide fodder for this kind of psychosis. This is a very serious matter all over the world. Every war being fought right now has a religious element fueling it. All you have to do is dig through the rubble and it's there.
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