The importance of "coming out" as an atheist?
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19-03-2012, 11:40 PM
The importance of "coming out" as an atheist?
A bit of background. I am 16, living in rural Nebraska, and I am probably the only atheist I know of in the entire surrounding area. Though skeptic since probably around 10, I only acknowledged my lack of belief around January. I've reported my lack of religion to others, even acquaintances, in conversation, but I've never openly announced it. Mainly because I have never felt it's important.

Well, recently, a friend of mine asked if my parents knew that I didn't believe in a deity. I asked him why he inquired, and he said it was "important for them to know." I pondered this for a while. I'm quite different from my parents. Where my dad has done hard, hands-on work and programming and my mom makes art and waits on people in restaurants, I aspire to become a physicist. I have a few interests in common with my dad, but otherwise, there are few similarities. But they've always encouraged me to follow my own "path," if you will. And going by the fact that they have not attended church services for over five years, I never really figured it was important.

But as I pondered, I wondered if maybe it was important enough to go to them first to declare it. I would never lie and say that I still believed in a deity if it came up in conversation, but either they've suspected it for a long time or have had no reason to assume otherwise, and it's never come up in conversation in years, long before I no longer considered myself Christian. At first, I was certain that they wouldn't even care to know. But now, I'm wondering if maybe it would disturb them, or maybe disappoint them. I normally wouldn't care because I understand that even if this was the case, it would pass quickly. But I'm not sure I want to waste the time and explain why, risk a bad encounter, or worse, plant seeds of doubt in their minds. I've always been very accepting, and actively encourage friends to stick to their faith if they can. I've nearly brought a friend from his faith once before, I don't want to do the same to family.

Even if I was to tell them directly, I'm not even entirely sure on how I would do it. I have never done anything of the sort, no big "secrets" that I have hidden. I can't emphasize enough that I have no desire to keep it a secret, only that I won't know if it's worth directly revealing.

Any help on the situation would be appreciated. So far I'm still convinced that it's only really necessary to bring up if inquired about, but I'm horrible with these things. I'm not a very emotional person, and this could be more important to them than I make it out to be.

Thanks.
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20-03-2012, 05:13 AM
RE: The importance of "coming out" as an atheist?
Hi, welcome to the forum

I never had the same problem but in conclusion of some other threads on this forum:

You shouldn't make a big deal out of it because it isn't and it certainly isn't worth any possible problems.
If it comes up naturally tell them, if not, never mind. This way you don't force it onto them.
so: As long as you don't have the urge to tell them there's no need to.

They obviously don't really care about religion at this point or at least they aren't devout believers if they managed 5 years without church.

Of course no one can tell you what the outcome would be if you did at some point.
a. They declare having fallen from believe themselves
b. They don't care
c. They care (and it could even end with them taking you to a church xP)
d. something else

Only you can tell how they would react. I bet on a or b after 5 years, but you know em better.

I would dare say your friend is wrong if he told you this directly without a "maybe" in his sentence. From my perspective it sounds like it is quite important for him. Therefore from his perspective it must be important for [Name of whoever could possibly change your mind]?
Only speculation I don't want to generate ill feelings (because at least it would mean he cares for you ^^)

The question is: does it really matter whether or not it is important for your parents? It is your life.
Lets assume it was important to them. What would that suggest?
It would mean they care for you. But in a way you don't want them to. Because the religious "care" (which you could awake in them) could go into a ridiculous hyperdrive and your list of possible bad outcomes could extend to the point of you moving out (which would leave you with at least 2 years of misery until then)
So if it is important to your parents you should even less tell them for your own sake.


Conclusion:
Your assumptions are probably completely correct and it isn't worth mentioning (you're certainly not hiding anything);
and as said, only tell your parents if asked by them or if you feel the urge to do so
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20-03-2012, 07:30 AM
RE: The importance of "coming out" as an atheist?
Well said Vipa, agree wholeheartedly. Don't stress about it Wink
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20-03-2012, 08:54 AM (This post was last modified: 20-03-2012 08:55 AM by Dom.)
RE: The importance of "coming out" as an atheist?
If they don't go to church and if religion is not a big deal in your house, why bother?

Some people feel the urge to talk about it and some don't. Your parents obviously didn't feel the urge to talk to you about church. So, I don't see why it has to be brought up on purpose.

It never came up in my house when I grew up. I chucked religion when I was ten, my parents didn't go to church. No one cared. No one talked about it. It was irrelevant.

Maybe they are on the fence about it and a confrontation might push them one direction or the other - maybe they would feel they would have to defend religion to you. It's not just about you, it's about them too. Let them be comfortable with the path they are finding themselves on. Looks like it's the right one.


Ok, who cut my signature in half? It's missing the caption now!

[Image: dobie.png]

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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20-03-2012, 01:05 PM
RE: The importance of "coming out" as an atheist?
I agree- if it were me and the impact on my life was minimal, then I wouldn't bother telling them.
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20-03-2012, 04:01 PM
RE: The importance of "coming out" as an atheist?
(20-03-2012 05:13 AM)Vipa Wrote:  Hi, welcome to the forum

I never had the same problem but in conclusion of some other threads on this forum:

You shouldn't make a big deal out of it because it isn't and it certainly isn't worth any possible problems.
If it comes up naturally tell them, if not, never mind. This way you don't force it onto them.
so: As long as you don't have the urge to tell them there's no need to.

They obviously don't really care about religion at this point or at least they aren't devout believers if they managed 5 years without church.

Of course no one can tell you what the outcome would be if you did at some point.
a. They declare having fallen from believe themselves
b. They don't care
c. They care (and it could even end with them taking you to a church xP)
d. something else

Only you can tell how they would react. I bet on a or b after 5 years, but you know em better.

I would dare say your friend is wrong if he told you this directly without a "maybe" in his sentence. From my perspective it sounds like it is quite important for him. Therefore from his perspective it must be important for [Name of whoever could possibly change your mind]?
Only speculation I don't want to generate ill feelings (because at least it would mean he cares for you ^^)

The question is: does it really matter whether or not it is important for your parents? It is your life.
Lets assume it was important to them. What would that suggest?
It would mean they care for you. But in a way you don't want them to. Because the religious "care" (which you could awake in them) could go into a ridiculous hyperdrive and your list of possible bad outcomes could extend to the point of you moving out (which would leave you with at least 2 years of misery until then)
So if it is important to your parents you should even less tell them for your own sake.


Conclusion:
Your assumptions are probably completely correct and it isn't worth mentioning (you're certainly not hiding anything);
and as said, only tell your parents if asked by them or if you feel the urge to do so

Everything exactly as I originally thought. In fact, those were the very three conclusions that I came upon as being likely. I've suspected a possibility of them abandoning the faith since before I officially did it myself, though I don't have enough evidence to support such a claim. Of course, they clearly don't bother with it much, so I doubt they would care. But I have thought that maybe they just got lazy, and figured nothing would come about because of it. I should state that not going to church had nothing to do with my conclusions, as they mostly came from studying the beliefs themselves. But maybe they would think it was because of that, and resume regular attendance.

Well, I'm going to carry on the way I was. I figured it was the best course of action. Thanks everyone/
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