Worried about the family reaction/judgement
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04-09-2015, 09:43 AM
Worried about the family reaction/judgement
Hi all,

I am 18 and was raised as a Roman Catholic, though haven't been since probably age 14. I am in college now, and I am loving not going to church. At any rate, soon enough my family will figure this out, and we all know that won't be an easy conversation. I think my parents already knew that I didn't really believe, but my sister is very very(did I mention very) devout and will probably think I'm going to hell. She is pretty naive too. I wouldn't be surprised if she cried over this. I don't want it to become a thing between us, but I don't know how to respond to the "So have you found a church?" question that is inevitably going to come. Also I think my grandparents, one of whom is a deacon, will be very disappointed. How do you guys deal with the silent (or not so quiet) judgement of family members who you want to have normal relations with? Maybe I am making a bigger deal out of it than it is, but I don't understand the negative stigma that comes with atheism. Thanks for all responses and this forum looks awesome!

A man should not believe in an ism, he should believe in himself. -Ferris Bueller

That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that's what a ship needs but what a ship is... what the Black Pearl really is... is freedom. -Jack Sparrow
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04-09-2015, 10:03 AM
RE: Worried about the family reaction/judgement
Welcome to TTA.

Nope, I don't understand the stigma either.

The answer to "So have you found a church?" is ... yes.

You don't have to mention that you've found it on a map but have not been inside it.

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04-09-2015, 10:09 AM
RE: Worried about the family reaction/judgement
Hi Smile Welcome! Some family and friends will be accepting--others not so much. It does suck, but I feel it is their choice--just like I make choices in my own life. It all boils down to being true to yourself. You can't spend your one and only life living to make other people happy.

For the family/friends who have issues with me--I try and show through action that I am still the same person, I still have *good* morals and I try and show them that atheism is not a negative term.
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04-09-2015, 10:28 AM
RE: Worried about the family reaction/judgement
(04-09-2015 09:43 AM)Imathinker Wrote:  I am 18 and was raised as a Roman Catholic, though haven't been since probably age 14. I am in college now, and I am loving not going to church. At any rate, soon enough my family will figure this out, and we all know that won't be an easy conversation. I think my parents already knew that I didn't really believe, but my sister is very very(did I mention very) devout and will probably think I'm going to hell. She is pretty naive too. I wouldn't be surprised if she cried over this.

My sis cried as well many years ago and she isn't RC. Brace yourself for it and read up on apologetics because they are in your future, I guarantee it.

(04-09-2015 09:43 AM)Imathinker Wrote:  I don't want it to become a thing between us, but I don't know how to respond to the "So have you found a church?" question that is inevitably going to come. Also I think my grandparents, one of whom is a deacon, will be very disappointed.

Yup, they will be. My mother blames herself in spite of my reassurances that it had nothing to do with her.

(04-09-2015 09:43 AM)Imathinker Wrote:  How do you guys deal with the silent (or not so quiet) judgement of family members who you want to have normal relations with? Maybe I am making a bigger deal out of it than it is, but I don't understand the negative stigma that comes with atheism. Thanks for all responses and this forum looks awesome!

You are absolutely not making a big deal out of this. My sister-in-law many years ago asked me "are you an atheist?" Like she was asking me whether I had molested the dog. At the time I wasn't so I truthfully answered and she was visibly relieved. I am the only open atheist I know. I don't hide it if it comes up and I certainly don't offer it up. I play on a softball team for my wife's church. They pretty much know what I am although only one has had the courage to talk to me about it (which I totally respect him for). I have heard negative things said in my presence about non-believers (they didn't know I was one of "them") to my face or by overhearing. As for the stigma, I guess it is that you represent darkness. Consider this passage:

Quote: 2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

Even though this is speaking of idolatry/other religions, how many times have you heard believers say that atheism is a religion? This may be where some of the stigma comes from although I think that the church they attend plays a huge role.

"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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04-09-2015, 10:31 AM
RE: Worried about the family reaction/judgement
Welcome. There are lot's of former catholics here, like myself and Jenny (who is a great resource). There is no easy way to deal with very religious family members. I would say, be yourself, but if your parents are holding the purse strings on your college education, and you think they may hold it out as ransom or maybe even cut you off, you may consider waiting before you come out. On a personal level, it is great to see young atheists such as yourself coming into your own.
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04-09-2015, 10:45 AM
RE: Worried about the family reaction/judgement
(04-09-2015 09:43 AM)Imathinker Wrote:  How do you guys deal with the silent (or not so quiet) judgement of family members who you want to have normal relations with?

I try to take the high road and remember that their unease comes from a lifetime of indoctrination. They perhaps can't understand why I would leave the comforting embrace of a deity, and probably think I'm being foolish or defiant. From the other side of it I'm equally perplexed by the reasons someone would choose to be intellectually and emotionally imprisoned by religion. I can tolerate the occasional squawking of caged crows because ultimately I know I'm free.
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04-09-2015, 12:22 PM
RE: Worried about the family reaction/judgement
Thanks for the replies!

I'm pretty sure my parents will not withhold college money on account of this, I think they respect that most of their children are adults and make our own decisions. Here's a funny (actually not funny at all) situation as well...My brother, also atheist, goes to the same college as my religious sister and has been telling her that he just goes to different mass times that's why they don't see each other. In reality he very rarely actually goes. Kind of sad that that's necessary...

I guess in the end anyone who is offended by atheism isn't worth the effort.

I believe you are correct Mr.Boston that people are subconsciously threatened by the fact that others live perfectly normal lives without any religion, and the possibility they have been indoctrinated their whole life.

Organic chemist, I always laugh to myself when someone suggests that atheism is a religion and actually requires more faith than other religions, as if science is some arbitrary belief system.

A man should not believe in an ism, he should believe in himself. -Ferris Bueller

That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that's what a ship needs but what a ship is... what the Black Pearl really is... is freedom. -Jack Sparrow
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04-09-2015, 05:57 PM
RE: Worried about the family reaction/judgement
Welcome to the forum. I feel both the reaction of others and my relationship with each individual varies, depending on level of comfort, open mindedness and need to know. As every persons experience with conversion (to religion) or uncoupling (from religion) is uniquely their own, the advice I share falls more in the camp of moral support then anything else.

With that said, never stop learning, achieve the goals in life you've set for yourself and never be ashamed of who you are or who you're becoming. The example of your life being lived in a way that makes you happy, is the only real testimony you need as to your nonreligious stance.

If you're asked questions and feel comfortable explaining your position, then by all means have that dialog, but don't feel obligated to do so. As an adult, other people's opinion doesn't really matter, though I realize that some value approval more than others.

Enjoy yourself, don't sweat the small stuff, and remember that most things aren't as serious as they're made out to be. Again, welcome aboard!
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