Coming out of the closet about religion.

marshalltenbears
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Coming out of the closet about religion.

 I recently dumped all my religious beliefs about six months ago. The only people that I have not told are my parents. Mainly my mother. I was raised in the church (southern baptist) my whole life and don't really know how to break it to her that I don't believe in anything I was taught as a child anymore. I almost would rather not tell them and not have to deal with it. To some this may seem trivial, to others like myself it is a bit more serious.  I imagine this may be similar to what it feels like for someone who is gay to come out of the closet to thier parents. Has anyone had this same experience as me? How did you handle it and what was the outcome? 

"Take all the heads of the people
and hang them up before the Lord
against the sun.” -- Numbers 25:4


The Doomed Soul
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Simple question... Why

Simple question...

 

Why bother?

 

 

Why do people feel an overwhelming urge to tell the world their little secrets? Something i will never understand...

What Would Kharn Do?


marshalltenbears
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 BC it is a major change in

 BC it is a major change in my life. When you change like that you are not the same person anymore and I feel like family and friends should know that I am not the same person anymore. That is the only reason I can come up with. Other than that it doesn't really matter. 

"Take all the heads of the people
and hang them up before the Lord
against the sun.” -- Numbers 25:4


Hambydammit
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 It's certainly a big deal.

 It's certainly a big deal.  I was also raised southern baptist.  I also told everybody else before I told my mother.

I won't lie to you.  It hasn't been the same since.  We were never the closest of buddies, but it's pretty distant now.  Half of it is because I'm... well... writing books about how awful her religion is, and she knows it.  The other part, unfortunately, is that it's very difficult to hang out with her anymore.  There's really very little to discuss because her life centers around theism and mine centers around atheism.

I don't really have any advice for you because I don't know much about your life.  I don't know how close you are to your mother, or what it would mean to your life if she was not a very big part of it.  Part of what was really tough for me was the realization that blood is not everything.  I've chosen to surround myself with people who accept me for who I am, and it turns out, that's not my family.  On balance, I feel happy with my choice, but that's just me.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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marshalltenbears
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thanks

 yes, I agree I would rather surround myself with people who accept me for who I am. I think it is wrong and extremely unchristian to act that way towards your children. A parent should love the child unconditionally. It seems like religion can ruin that too. I am getting to the point to were it is already difficult to hang out with her bc of her religion. My father is also a firm believer in the bible and especially all of the end time prophecy stuff that comes with it. He also had a heart attack a few years ago and does not need the extra stress of thinking I will burn in hell forever. So I think I will just not bother telling him. 

"Take all the heads of the people
and hang them up before the Lord
against the sun.” -- Numbers 25:4


The Doomed Soul
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No shit, eh? Look, this is

No shit, eh?

 

Look, this is just one of those things where you have to way the positives against the negatives

Best case scenario? Everything stays the same, an you may get a little self-satisfaction and relief thrown in.

Worst case? You end up with a situation like Hamby (Or worse, as other people on these forums)

The Risk vs Reward is just not there.

What Would Kharn Do?


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 I started the exact same

 I started the exact same thread about a month ago when I joined. So far, I still haven't told my ma in so many words, but I'm almost positive she knows.

To be honest, things will change. You'll have to be ready for that. It might not be as bad as it was with Hamby, but there will be some change.

"Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, show me the steep and thorny way to heaven. Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine, himself the primrose path of dalliance treads. And recks not his own rede."


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My story and some advice

I struggled with this for a while too, but apparently at a much younger age than either your or Hamby (read, about 7 and up).  It took me till well into my teen years, but of course kids have a lot more difficulty standing up to their parents.  Interestingly enough my parents' divorce actually helped me with this problem, because after the divorce they both stopped trying to force me to go to church. 

My family's kind of scattered though.  My older sister's pretty atheist, a lot like myself in belief systems but a lot less open about it.  I think she came to atheism a lot later than me.  My dad claims Christianity but he's one of those "might as well be atheist" types.  He doesn't go to church, and he even told me one time that he was annoyed at people saying he should do the right thing because he'd be punished if he didn't.  He said he'd rather do the right thing because it was the right thing.  My mom's all up on karma and positive thinking and stuff, and her belief system has become so vague and ill-defined that I don't really understand it anymore.  Then there's my younger sister, who has started attending a fairly fundamentalist christian church and has some fairly fundamentalist views about marriage, evolution/ID, and such.

My parents will sometimes insist on prayer before meals, but typically only for holidays and when we have company.  I just don't participate, which caused problems at first when my mom tried to force me.  She once said "you should at least give thanks that this turkey gave it's life for you," or some such nonsense, even mentioning that the Native Americans would give thanks to the animals that they killed.  To which I replied "One, the turkey didn't have a choice about the matter, so it's hardly a gift.  Two, the turkey is dead so what use would thanking it do? And three, the turkey wouldn't understand English even if it could hear my thanks."  I then thanked her for purchasing and preparing the turkey, and said I would thank the farmer who took care of the turkey, the truck driver who delivered it to the store, and so forth if I ever met them/knew who they were.  She's never pressed me to say a prayer since, but she still gets annoyed sometimes.

A couple of things to note though (to the OP)

1. At least you are honest with yourself.  It took me a while to really admit to myself that I was definitely a gnostic atheist.  I think part of this was because I started leaning atheist so young.  But being honest with yourself is really important.

2. Regardless of what you choose, your relationship with your mother will change.  If you keep things hidden, then you'll still have problems because you'll be forced to fake sincerity, lie, or withhold comment.  You will basically be lying to your mother for as long as you keep the charade up, and this will change things.  If you tell your mother, then she may take it well, or she may take it poorly.  It's really up to her at that point.  It could utterly ruin your relationship, it could simply make things uncomfortable (which not telling her would do anyway), but it could also lead to an understanding that saves the relationship.  So you have to decide if you'd rather live with an uncomfortable relationship with falsehoods or risk the relationship in an attempt to save it.

3. You can only keep the charade up for so long.  Unless you're willing to fake it to everyone, your mother will probably find out eventually.  It's also probably better that she find out from you than from your friend or another family member.  If she finds out from another source then she may be upset at your change of views, but she will almost certainly be upset that you aren't being honest with her, and this will make things worse.

 

Wow that was longer than I intended.  I hope this all helps, and good luck!

Questions for Theists:
http://silverskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/03/consistent-standards.html

I'm a bit of a lurker. Every now and then I will come out of my cave with a flurry of activity. Then the Ph.D. program calls and I must fall back to the shadows.


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Unfortunately, I was raised

Unfortunately, I was raised into a Christian lifestyle in Texas, of all places. I never "believed," or even pretended like I did, but I also kept my mouth shut about my disbelief to keep things peaceful. Later when I was almost done with High School and preparing to move out, I felt comfortable to mention it and it randomly came out one night. My mom was upset, she was in denial thinking that I was just confused, and ever since that moment we never talked about religion again. It's kind of funny because she was slowly becoming less and less religious, anyway. She never goes to church or talks about God, but I know she still believes.

My advice? Don't tell them. I don't see how it really helps with this subject, specifically, unless you're being pressured into participating in something religious and you feel uncomfortable. If your parents make you go to church just bite your tongue, it'll be over soon enough. Hell, you might even gain some perspective about religion and people by going...I know I did. I used to go to church and ignore the sermons just to read the bible. The best way of debunking "the word of God," is to examine it closely. I just think it's dumb for relationships in a family to be tarnished because of some bullshit mythology. Sadly, maybe the child has to be the adult in the family and keep the peace.

We shouldn't "come out of the closet," because it's a little different with religion. If you're gay, eventually your parents are either going to find out or they'll suspect it. You can move away and have a completely separate life, but certain questions will start popping up and they won't get sufficient answers. Identifying yourself in that situation seems healthy to me. With religion? Who the fuck cares? Lie to your parents, you don't have to worry about going to hell because of it. Look at the facts...you're lying about believing in something. It's the easiest thing you can possibly do. Shit, run with it. Tell them you are religious, it might be fun. I don't think you're selling yourself out by not admitting what you really are because, love your parents or not, you cannot force them to think and believe like you. A mother hearing her son say he's an atheist is like hearing him say, "I'm going to hell." She's not going to accept that. She'll get over it, she'll be civil, she'll try to forget about it...but the damage is done. I don't see how it benefits to ever tell your parents this.

 


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The Doomed Soul wrote:Simple

The Doomed Soul wrote:

Simple question...

 

Why bother?

 

 

Why do people feel an overwhelming urge to tell the world their little secrets? Something i will never understand...

A perfectly reasonable question.


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marshalltenbears wrote: BC

marshalltenbears wrote:

 BC it is a major change in my life. When you change like that you are not the same person anymore and I feel like family and friends should know that I am not the same person anymore. That is the only reason I can come up with. Other than that it doesn't really matter. 

It's part of growing up.
It's entirely natural, and sort of like cumming for the fist time.

Did you have a need share that with your family, as well?

Should the occasion arise that you are imposed upon to perform or participate in some religious rite, or ceremony in some religious manner, where those attempting to impose their beliefs upon you are a family member, you simply say your not into that anymore and don't have to or desire to explain your reasons and choices a you are not a child.

Simple. No big deal.


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The Doomed Soul wrote:No

The Doomed Soul wrote:

No shit, eh?

 

Look, this is just one of those things where you have to way the positives against the negatives

Best case scenario? Everything stays the same, an you may get a little self-satisfaction and relief thrown in.

Worst case? You end up with a situation like Hamby (Or worse, as other people on these forums)

The Risk vs Reward is just not there.

Well said.


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.

marshalltenbears wrote:
I recently dumped all my religious beliefs about six months ago. The only people that I have not told are my parents. Mainly my mother. I was raised in the church (southern baptist) my whole life and don't really know how to break it to her that I don't believe in anything I was taught as a child anymore. I almost would rather not tell them and not have to deal with it. To some this may seem trivial, to others like myself it is a bit more serious.  I imagine this may be similar to what it feels like for someone who is gay to come out of the closet to thier parents. Has anyone had this same experience as me? How did you handle it and what was the outcome? 

The need to rebel, the need to tell. The need to share and the need to some word that rhymes with share.

If this is the worst of your problems, put it off for a while. Give it some thought. There is no magic answer for everyone. But six months? When half a year is a significant fraction of your life to date of course it seems like a long time. May you live long enough to learn it is the blink of an eye, maybe two blinks. In my time I have found mothers instilling religion from some sense of social duty not because they really believe it themselves.

From my own experience I simply advise silence. Do not fake anything, simply stop as best circumstances allow.

One only gets one go at this in life so there is really no way to advise about parents. From my experience with women a heart-felt "I don't believe that crap" goes a lot further than any intellectual reasoning. As a kid I remember hearing a lot of stories about the men declaring they can't tolerate the preacher/priest and stopping going. That may have been the socially acceptable way back then. Women will generally accept without comment anything a man says with genuine or well acted anger as long as it is not directed at them.

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


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Now that I think about it, I

Now that I think about it, I had a copy of "The God Delusion" on my bookshelf. It came up missing when my folks came to visit. I think my mom stole it.

"Take all the heads of the people
and hang them up before the Lord
against the sun.” -- Numbers 25:4


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marshalltenbears wrote:Now

marshalltenbears wrote:

Now that I think about it, I had a copy of "The God Delusion" on my bookshelf. It came up missing when my folks came to visit. I think my mom stole it.

Start with that. Mention the book asking if she didn't see it and if she really stole it, then it will be all about that book being evil and so on, if you can expand on that, you may reveal your doubts without actually telling anything. Anyway stealing a book would be something I'd be pissed about, no matter what you believe, that doesn't excuse conzorship.


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what really pisses me off

what really pisses me off about it is that I was only halfway through it. And it is a 30 dollar book.  

"Take all the heads of the people
and hang them up before the Lord
against the sun.” -- Numbers 25:4


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"'The God Delusion" cost me 30 bucks !

Go to the Library,they have a lot of books by Richard Dawkins. And now this one is about your original post,the only advice that I can give you,would be to show them the evidence for Evolution,hence your Atheism.  

Signature ? How ?


Fanas
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marshalltenbears wrote:what

marshalltenbears wrote:

what really pisses me off about it is that I was only halfway through it. And it is a 30 dollar book.  

Demand it back. That is the matter of principle, censorship is the worst crime I could think of.


marshalltenbears
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 I don't know if she took

 I don't know if she took it and I really don't want to go off and accuse my mother of stealing from her son. 

"Take all the heads of the people
and hang them up before the Lord
against the sun.” -- Numbers 25:4


Fanas
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marshalltenbears wrote: I

marshalltenbears wrote:

 I don't know if she took it and I really don't want to go off and accuse my mother of stealing from her son. 

Don't accuse, just ask if she saw it Smiling

 


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I realize I am a few days

I realize I am a few days late in writing on this topic, but I kind of suck at the whole forum thing for some reason.... anyway, I felt like I should "weigh in" or something.

I have to say I kind of agree with the person who didn't feel a need to share their secrets. I am, by no means, silent about my atheism. If the topic is broached I will own up to the fact that I am a non believer, but I also don't feel the need to wear an "I am an atheist" sign on my forehead or introduce myself to prospective employers by saying "Hi, I'm Sarah and I don't believe in God."

My family is very uh... weird with religion. My immediate family is devout Mormon. My husband's mother is a born again, his father is wiccan and his sister is muslim. So I kind of have it from all angles. Keeping in mind what I said above, I never went up to any of them and said "I have something to tell you..." I really never felt the need to advertise. My parents have it figured out, I'm sure. They have seen our coffee pot (a big no-no to mormons) and my pile of atheist books. My mom made a "I know you don't believe in prayer..." comment to me once. Aside from that, they also know I had my records removed. I really feel no reason to say "Guess what, Mom..." to them. Looking at the risks vs. rewards, I think it would only hurt our relationship. I'm not saying that it hasn't already changed due to their assumptions, because it has. There is some tension there, but for the most part we all respect each other and that is fine.

Now my husbands family is an entirely different matter all together. His dad is completely cool with me and whatever. He really couldn't care less. However, his mother sent me a ton of biblical sermons via email and cornered me with bible discussions. I just tolerated her in silence for a while but then after a bit I kind of snapped. I felt incredibly disrespected by how she pushed her beliefs on me. I got pissed and I confronted her. I probably didn't handle it the best but I basically told her that I don't believe in her fantasy novel and I feel no need to. I also told her that I don't shove my atheist stuff down her throat every time she breaths in my direction, but if she demands some stage time to pimp her beliefs then she better get ready to sit down and give me the same amount of time she allowed herself. That was basically how I "came out" to her. Needless to say, the bible stuff and sermons stopped but we also didn't speak for about 4 months. Since the mother and sister are still connected via umbilical cord, I managed to piss both of them off in one fell swoop.

I really probably wouldn't have said anything if it wasn't for her throwing her beliefs on me like that, constantly. I didn't really feel the need to ever say "Hey, I'm going to marry your son and guess what! I'm an atheist!" If I hadn't lost my temper I probably would have handled the situation better. It has completely changed both of our relationships with his family, which is kind of sad. They will all talk to my husband, but they absolutely hate my guts (well, all of them but his father who thinks the way I handled the situation was just about the coolest thing since sliced bread). I am totally, completely and 100% not accepted by his family at all. Family gatherings are tension filled. The mother-in-law, sister-in-law and I kind of ignore each other. I know it wouldn't be like that if they didn't know about my religion. But again, it's about weighing the pros and the cons. While I could have been a bit more "classy" I know that it really wouldn't have mattered in the end. She told me once that I needed to be put on medication until I believe in God and I know even if I was the nicest person in the world when I told her to stop peddling her beliefs, in the end she'd still think I need to be medicated. It really was just a matter for me to decide if putting up with her crap was worth it, and to me it wasn't. I was willing to sacrifice a relationship with someone to not feel smothered by Jesus.

My mother does have some issues, too. Recently she had the Mormons send my husband some crap in the mail. It was her covert way to try and get my husband active, which she felt would get me active. It really upset me. I called and told her that I didn't appreciate it and we weren't going to go to church. I asked her to stop sending the stuff. She was disappointed but she agreed and apologized. I have never, ever felt cornered enough with my family to actually feel the need to officially come out like I did with my husband's family. Sometimes assumptions are enough. Sometimes people need to get hit with the obvious stick.

Basically, I think it's just a matter of perspective. If you feel the need to... if you feel that by saying "I'm an atheist" will make a difference that you need for some reason (closure, getting someone off your back etc), then by all means, do it. Just understand that there are risks. People all react very differently. I am still my mother's daughter, but to my mother-in-law I'm sub-human and ruining her son's life. To me, the benefits outweigh the cons but others might have chosen differently.

Good luck in your decision and I'm sorry this was such a long diatribe.

- Sarah

"I’m a polyatheist - there are many gods I don’t believe in." - Dan Fouts


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They're the ones with the

They're the ones with the secret: They don't even really believe their religion and they are essentially selfish pleasure seekers that only pretend to believe out of fear or social preasure.

If you're around religious people enought, you'll eventually see or hear something where they slip up and you can tell they don't really believe, but only pretend to believe.

So if you arugue with a so-called 'believer' about your out-of-closet atheism, you just point out their inconsistencies in their behavior with their religion. Then ask them, if they really 'believe' why don't they act like it 100% of the time? This will make them uncomfortable because you know their little secret. So turn the discussion from why you are out of the closet to why they are still in the closet.

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 this was good, i liked it.

 this was good, i liked it. The only people that do not know about my new beliefs are my parents. My dad has a heart condition that was cause primarily by stress. I'm afraid that if I tell it would be too much and he would have another heart attack. And if I told my mother she would definitely tell him. So I think I will just not tell them. It really isn't worth it. The only way I would tell them is if they asked me directly. And the only way they would ask me directly is if they already knew. So whatever. 

"Take all the heads of the people
and hang them up before the Lord
against the sun.” -- Numbers 25:4


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EXC wrote:They're the ones

EXC wrote:

They're the ones with the secret: They don't even really believe their religion and they are essentially selfish pleasure seekers that only pretend to believe out of fear or social preasure.

If you're around religious people enought, you'll eventually see or hear something where they slip up and you can tell they don't really believe, but only pretend to believe.

So if you arugue with a so-called 'believer' about your out-of-closet atheism, you just point out their inconsistencies in their behavior with their religion. Then ask them, if they really 'believe' why don't they act like it 100% of the time? This will make them uncomfortable because you know their little secret. So turn the discussion from why you are out of the closet to why they are still in the closet.

Man, I couldn't agree with you more. My mother is one of those people. She goes to church almost every sunday, and has a prayer group, prayer partner...etc. But her lifestyle is so hypocritical. She is very materialistic. Example, she wanted to buy a new fridge( and they are not cheap) so it would match her new stove. There is nothing wrong with her current fridge. She speads money on stupid shit all the time. She has a horrible diet. She is rude to people. When I think of her personality I think of the steroetypical american. But it is like she thinks that she is ok bc she goes to church and is "saved". I think jesus said something about materialism, and I am sure he was against it. I think it is a joke when I pass a big church and see everyone with their expensive cloths, cars. The women wearing 2 lbs of make up on their faces. Just ask any of them when was the last time they bought a meal for a homeless person. 

Another thing that proves they are full of it is if they really believed that there was a literal hell, as described in the bible, They would running around like headless chickens trying to warn everyone. But they will only talk about it if it comes up in a casual conversation. It is supposed to be the basis of their life, but they treat it like a taboo. Ok, I have to stop, I think everyone here knows what I am ranting about. And I know my spelling sucks. 

"Take all the heads of the people
and hang them up before the Lord
against the sun.” -- Numbers 25:4


marshalltenbears
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Fanas wrote:marshalltenbears

Fanas wrote:

marshalltenbears wrote:

 I don't know if she took it and I really don't want to go off and accuse my mother of stealing from her son. 

Don't accuse, just ask if she saw it Smiling

 

Nevermind, I found it. 

"Take all the heads of the people
and hang them up before the Lord
against the sun.” -- Numbers 25:4


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meh iv never told anyone yet

meh iv never told anyone yet everyones knows... i mean i didn't go around saying... "hey guess what im an atheist now" didnt deny it either.  people are smart enough to figure it out. supose not going to church gave them a small clue. Its really not a big deal, i act much the same as when i was a christian, i wouldn't go so far as to call me becoming an atheist life changing.

Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
No animal shall wear clothes.
No animal shall sleep in a bed.
No animal shall drink alcohol.
No animal shall kill any other animal.
All animals are equal.