I need some advice

rumpagump
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I need some advice

For a few years I kept the fact that I was an atheist a secret from my family, not that hard considering I am out on my own and live in a different city.  Well recently my parents found out.  My dad never mentions it, but my mom calls once or twice a week and even when I tell her I do not want to speak about it she persists to discuss it, and minutes into the conversation begins to cry.
I really want to lie to her and say that I found jesus and he was hiding under the couch cushion or some thing to make her happy so that she will shut up about it and we can have a normal relationship.  But I do not feel that I should have to lie about my point of view, or that I should have to fake ignoring the evidence just to make her happy.
no matter what I say explaining how silly this whole predicament is, she persists.
I have tried to explain how it is ridiculous to think that a being would make the universe, putting fossils in the ground and making all the stars moving away from us in short filling it with evidence for evolution and the big bang. then make a creature smart enough to look at that evidence and conclude there is no god, THEN punish his creations that use the brain he gave them and reward the ones who do not.

So does any one else have parents who call them crying about how they need to be saved? And do you have any tips on how to deal with them? or is this simply a long drawn out process that will last the rest of our lives?


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Watch this video and all of

Watch this video and all of its replies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYw5NRpd6ZY


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You could always throw the

You could always throw the tactic back at her. Call her and cry about how she's wasting her life on a belief instead of doing things to better herself or others. Not something I'd necessarily recommend normally, but it's what I'd do.

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It's about respect. Just

It's about respect.

Just because they're your parents, they don't get to treat you with less respect than they would a non-family guest or friend.

It's a painful life lesson, but grown children often have to draw a line in the sand with their parents.  You're both adults.  Imagine how you would handle a friend who was behaving the same way.  The fact is, if your mother doesn't stop behaving this way, you're not going to want to be around her or talk to her very often.  This is information that will be hard for her to hear, but if you don't tell her, it's going to happen anyway.  Better to tell her the truth and let her make up her own mind.  If it's more important for her to convert you than to have a good relationship, well... that's the way it is, and at least you know.

I'd explain to her that you want to have a good relationship with her, but you aren't going to talk to her when she's trying to convert you, and you aren't going to put up with crying phone calls.   The hard part is sticking to that, and politely ending the phone calls.  You know, something like, "I'm sorry mom, I can't talk to you when you're like this.  I'll talk to you later, ok?  Bye."

 

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

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Quote: I really want to

Quote:
I really want to lie to her and say that I found jesus and he was hiding under the couch cushion or some thing to make her happy so that she will shut up about it and we can have a normal relationship.  But I do not feel that I should have to lie about my point of view, or that I should have to fake ignoring the evidence just to make her happy.

Do take care what you wish for: a life in which your mother will finally accept that the religious "rumpagump" isn't coming back, or a life in which "rumpagump" is forever forced to take part in rituals and time-wasters that he/she is not believing in, and maintaining a lie towards oneself and towards the others.

No matter how hard you try, the chances that one day your mother will realize that you have been "converted" just to please her are quite high. Better that you teach her to accept that this deconversion of yours is here to stay.

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I agree with Hamby. If Mom

I agree with Hamby.
If Mom starts with the "saving" and crying, ask how Aunt Edna is doing and attempt to change the subject.
You can calmly tell her that she's your mom and you love her, but the "saving" and crying makes you not want to talk to her.  You'd love to chat with her and find out how everyone is doing, but if she's going to bring this up over and over (and cry), that makes you hesitant to answer the phone.
What I've said is that my parents did their best to raise me.  They did a good job because they raised me to learn and think for myself.
Ask her if she raised you to lie.  (I'm pretty sure the answer will be 'no'.)  Therefore, you cannot say you've been saved and that you believe because that would be a lie.
It's hard, I know.  You love your mom and you don't want to hurt her.  However, this is a personal decision for YOU, not anyone else.

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thank you all for your

thank you all for your advice


GodlessLitany
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I have a somewhat similar

I have a somewhat similar problem but my mother isn't as persistent, though I have the added predicament of still living with her. For a while, I just told her I wasn't a Christian but still believed in God, and held this belief for a while in reality, but then she brought things up and I answered honestly. Started with me seeing a several hundred foot tall cross erected on the side of the interstate near where I live (I'm not exaggerating-I may even be understating. Someone payed a pile of money to have a gigantic metal or some other whitish silver material cross built in full view next to the road-I think there are some good folk trying to get rid of it) and expressing distaste, and eventually she asked "So you're an atheist then?" in a very disbelieving way, and I said "Yes, I am." She began to cry, telling me how she knew god was real and said she was going to be so scared for me from then on because if I died in a car accident or something, there'd be no hope (for my soul). She then said I wasn't her son, for a little while (we get along better now), and acted like I had a contagious disease for a while.

I won't ramble on anymore about my situation because this isn't about me, and I've come to terms. (and to a point, I think she has too, though my father still doesn't know I'm an atheist and I'm dreading him finding out for fear of similar results with more anger and disowning than crying) I was very very tempted to just tell her I believe in God, go to church with her a few times until she gets out of religious fervor, and move on. But that wouldn't be right. I'm going to keep trying to get her to understand my position, though I know she won't listen and I won't even begin to attempt to convert her, because I know it won't happen. My mother hasn't been the best parent in the world, nor has my father, but neither has been the worst-and I feel like I owe it to them to be honest, however much it hurts them, as I would expect them to be with me. An uncomfortable truth is better than a convenient lie, in my opinion (which has a lot to do with me being an atheist in the first place).

I understand your position. This is circumstantial, of course, but parents can be the hardest people to face ridicule from, and the hardest people to sway. Don't disown your mother, but don't tolerate her more or less harassing you via telephone on a regular basis, either. And there's always the answer that will frighten her, but (possibly) keep her quiet/make her give up: "I've already commited the unforgivable sin of blasphemy, so there's no hope for me if you're right. You're going to have to accept that," or something similar. I probably went on too long about this-but it's a difficult set of events.

Humanity needs compassion and knowledge-an end to bigotry and undue ignorance. Religion stands in the way of these and my other ideals so strongly that I can't think of a stance apart from atheism that will allow me to feel like a decent human being.


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Wow. I'm so very sorry

Wow. I'm so very sorry you're in this situation. My best thought is that if I were in your shoes I'd avoid discussing religion like the plague. Instead of trying to convert her to your non-conversion, I'd simply say something like "Mom, I love and respect you, but I think we need to agree to disagree about this".

Some people may think that's a cop-out, I don't know. But I figure we need to pick our battles, and I don't think this is one you'll win by argueing.

Virtual hugs your way, and good luck with your mom!

Karen and her hounds
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I have the same problem

I have the same problem with my father and his side of the family, and I'm not even an atheist.  I'm just not the type of christian that he wants me to be, and he still fears for my soul somewhat, for whatever reason.  I don't attend church anymore, and to him that means that I've backslidden or that I'm just lazy and apathetic, which is not the case at all. 

This is what happens when you question the values you've been handed.  You eventually just have to tell them to back off. 


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Parents put their children

Parents put their children through all sorts of unnecessary bullshit.  I was just thinking about that today, and decided to revisit this thread. 

 My life in the christian faith has been a seemingly endless string of faith crises.  One right after another.  I was a really strong (read:  obnoxious) christian the first three years, and then I stopped going to church.  That was about 6 years ago (almost to the day).  I've gone to church very, very sporadically since, and will probably never take membership ever again.  When I stopped going, my father automatically got on the defensive.  "Well don't you believe in God?", he'd say, rather condescendingly.  "I believe there is a god", I would reply.  "Oh, well I'm not talking about a god.  I'm talking about GOD.  Your idea is too zen."  My father clearly had no understanding of zen.  

But it's been off and on harrassment from him for the past 6 years.  I can feel another wave of it coming on any day now.  He's been silent for too many months.  

Growing up, my grandfather was the pastor of our small baptist church, so of course I was there every time the door opened and then some.  It was not unpleasant, generally, until they began showing the films.  I don't know if you've heard of them, but it was a series of four films about the end times.  The first one was called "A Thief in the Night", and the others had equally foreboding titles.  These films, though in hindsight were terribly made, scared the absolute shit out of me.  I couldn't sleep for months.  When I did fall asleep, I dreamt of being chased by the devil's soldiers.  When I was awake, I could see "666" on everything, everywhere.  In short, I was under an extreme amount of mental and emotional trauma due to these films.  To make matters worse, my grandfather perpetually preached from Revelation on wednesday nights.  This was all before I was 10 years old.

Soon after, my father began pressuring me to go forward during the altar calls we had after every service.  For those unfamiliar, an altar call is a time at the end of a church service where you have the opportunity to go talk to the pastor and "get saved".  They play really sad songs while the pastor thunders over the piano, bellowing at you what a big mistake NOT coming forward would be.  

At first it was subtle.  Dad would whisper into my ear, "You know, you don't have to go alone", but I typically ignored him or just shook my head.  After a few months, I noticed that it was becoming more frequent, more intense, more forceful.  He was talking to me about it at home now, not just at church during the altar call.  "You'll go to hell if you die in your sin", he'd tell me, as I was trying to watch cartoons.  "Think you might want to make a decision soon?", he'd say.  I would just say "I don't know", or shrug my shoulders.  I just wanted to watch Donald Duck and Goofy.  I WAS EIGHT FUCKING YEARS OLD.  

Then it got to the point where during the altar calls it was very intense and uncomfortable.  He'd grab me by the shoulder, shove me towards the altar and say, "You need to go on, Justin.  Just go on."  That continued for what seemed like several months, until I just broke one day.  My friend Amanda went forward during the 2nd stanza of the hymn, and dad was all over it.  "Look, Amanda just went.  See how easy it was?  If she can do it there's no reason why you can't."

So I went.  Dad went with me.  Pastor grandpa wept, and knelt to the floor enraptured.  I repeated a prayer.  I agreed that Jesus was the son of God, and that he was now a permanent resident in my tiny, sinful, 8 year old heart.  Amanda looked at me, rolled her eyes and said, "Huh.  At least my dad didn't have to come up with me."  

I left the church, and was the same person I was when I entered earlier that morning.  It meant nothing more than dad finally getting off of my back, and my family being able to rest easier at night, knowing that their sinful 8 year old son was now redeemed and heaven bound.  


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It's hard to imagine what an

It's hard to imagine what an 8 year old could do to offend the creator of the universe.


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Whenever I think about this

Whenever I think about this stuff, I get comfort thinking that any children I have are never going to be raised in this fashion. They can live how they want at the end of the day, as long as no one is hurt. Even if they choose a religious life.

Remember these times, and the parent you become/are will be affected for the best.


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jmm wrote: Parents put

jmm wrote:

Parents put their children through all sorts of unnecessary bullshit. I was just thinking about that today, and decided to revisit this thread.

My life in the christian faith has been a seemingly endless string of faith crises. One right after another. I was a really strong (read: obnoxious) christian the first three years, and then I stopped going to church. That was about 6 years ago (almost to the day). I've gone to church very, very sporadically since, and will probably never take membership ever again. When I stopped going, my father automatically got on the defensive. "Well don't you believe in God?", he'd say, rather condescendingly. "I believe there is a god", I would reply. "Oh, well I'm not talking about a god. I'm talking about GOD. Your idea is too zen." My father clearly had no understanding of zen.

But it's been off and on harrassment from him for the past 6 years. I can feel another wave of it coming on any day now. He's been silent for too many months.

Growing up, my grandfather was the pastor of our small baptist church, so of course I was there every time the door opened and then some. It was not unpleasant, generally, until they began showing the films. I don't know if you've heard of them, but it was a series of four films about the end times. The first one was called "A Thief in the Night", and the others had equally foreboding titles. These films, though in hindsight were terribly made, scared the absolute shit out of me. I couldn't sleep for months. When I did fall asleep, I dreamt of being chased by the devil's soldiers. When I was awake, I could see "666" on everything, everywhere. In short, I was under an extreme amount of mental and emotional trauma due to these films. To make matters worse, my grandfather perpetually preached from Revelation on wednesday nights. This was all before I was 10 years old.

Soon after, my father began pressuring me to go forward during the altar calls we had after every service. For those unfamiliar, an altar call is a time at the end of a church service where you have the opportunity to go talk to the pastor and "get saved". They play really sad songs while the pastor thunders over the piano, bellowing at you what a big mistake NOT coming forward would be.

At first it was subtle. Dad would whisper into my ear, "You know, you don't have to go alone", but I typically ignored him or just shook my head. After a few months, I noticed that it was becoming more frequent, more intense, more forceful. He was talking to me about it at home now, not just at church during the altar call. "You'll go to hell if you die in your sin", he'd tell me, as I was trying to watch cartoons. "Think you might want to make a decision soon?", he'd say. I would just say "I don't know", or shrug my shoulders. I just wanted to watch Donald Duck and Goofy. I WAS EIGHT FUCKING YEARS OLD.

Then it got to the point where during the altar calls it was very intense and uncomfortable. He'd grab me by the shoulder, shove me towards the altar and say, "You need to go on, Justin. Just go on." That continued for what seemed like several months, until I just broke one day. My friend Amanda went forward during the 2nd stanza of the hymn, and dad was all over it. "Look, Amanda just went. See how easy it was? If she can do it there's no reason why you can't."

So I went. Dad went with me. Pastor grandpa wept, and knelt to the floor enraptured. I repeated a prayer. I agreed that Jesus was the son of God, and that he was now a permanent resident in my tiny, sinful, 8 year old heart. Amanda looked at me, rolled her eyes and said, "Huh. At least my dad didn't have to come up with me."

I left the church, and was the same person I was when I entered earlier that morning. It meant nothing more than dad finally getting off of my back, and my family being able to rest easier at night, knowing that their sinful 8 year old son was now redeemed and heaven bound.

I'm sorry you had to go through all that.  It's so unfair to do things like that to a child. 

No doubt, a lot of it was due to the fact that Grandpa was the minister and your father was initially more interested in the way it would look to the congregation. 

It's also disturbing that they would tell you that you have to be saved in case you die.  Geez, telling a healthy little kid that they could die in the near future!  That could really cause nightmares. 

Even as an 8 year old you went along to get them off your back and had the common sense to realize that's all you were doing.  I'd be curious to know your father's thoughts about fibbing since that's what you were doing when you "agreed that Jesus was the son of God, and that he was now a permanent resident in my tiny, sinful, 8 year old heart".

It's a shame that parents go to such lengths to indoctrinate small children.  Children shouldn't be seeing '666' in everything and having nightmares about being chased by devil's soldiers.  Children should have a happy childhood and sweet, innocent dreams.

This is a classic case of indoctination through fear and, in my opinion, borders on child abuse. 

Where was your mother in all this?

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Yeah, the fact that I went

Yeah, the fact that I went forward definitely did it's part in keeping up appearances within the congregation. 

I've had death on my mind since I was a very small child.  Where I grew up (rural appalachia), death is always at the back door, as they say.  Appalachian people are death obsessed, which probably has quite a bit to do with the religious obsessions.  If you aren't dying in a coal mine cave in, you're dying of cancer, emphysema, pneumonia, or something else terrible.  

I later told my dad that I had made what they call a "false profession" the time I went forward.  I had since undergone a (debatably) genuine spiritual awakening at the time, at age 18, but he had a very hard time understanding what I was talking about.  It's a shame too, because my father is an inherently brilliant human being.  He's just so caught up in his own world that sometimes it's counterproductive. 

Looking back, I would definitely agree that I was indoctrinated.  It never seems that way when you're a part of it, though.  It always seems like it's the right thing, somehow.  

My mom was pretty much there during the whole thing, at least in a physical sense.  My mother has a great deal of her own problems.  She sincerely went off the deep end in 1988.  A guy wrote this book called "88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988", and it really struck a nerve deep inside her.  Her descent into madness coincided with the first time they showed those end time films at the church.  The air was just really thick with rapture in those days, at least it seemed so at the time.  She was never the evangelical type, though.  She never told me that I needed to be saved.  She was even way more old fashioned than the people of our church in some ways.  She had a very primitive spirituality, if that makes any sense.  She would tell me on a fairly regular basis that satan was going to carry me off in a potato sack in the middle of the night.  (My aunt, incidentally, used to tell my sister and I that the devil lived behind the couch.)  Her faith was based much more on folklore than most people.  

Thanks for reading my ramblings.  I feel like this is an issue we can all agree on here, theists and atheists alike.     


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emotional abuse

I hope you don't mind my saying that what you've been through is quite serious emotional abuse. If your thoughts of death are in any way suicidal, or you find yourself unable to cope, please find help of some kind. What you've been through sounds like a ton of trauma for a child to experience, and I imagine it will haunt you for a long time.

Please take care of yourself.

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jmm wrote: Yeah, the fact

jmm wrote:

Yeah, the fact that I went forward definitely did it's part in keeping up appearances within the congregation.

I've had death on my mind since I was a very small child. Where I grew up (rural appalachia), death is always at the back door, as they say. Appalachian people are death obsessed, which probably has quite a bit to do with the religious obsessions. If you aren't dying in a coal mine cave in, you're dying of cancer, emphysema, pneumonia, or something else terrible.

I later told my dad that I had made what they call a "false profession" the time I went forward. I had since undergone a (debatably) genuine spiritual awakening at the time, at age 18, but he had a very hard time understanding what I was talking about. It's a shame too, because my father is an inherently brilliant human being. He's just so caught up in his own world that sometimes it's counterproductive.

Looking back, I would definitely agree that I was indoctrinated. It never seems that way when you're a part of it, though. It always seems like it's the right thing, somehow.

My mom was pretty much there during the whole thing, at least in a physical sense. My mother has a great deal of her own problems. She sincerely went off the deep end in 1988. A guy wrote this book called "88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988", and it really struck a nerve deep inside her. Her descent into madness coincided with the first time they showed those end time films at the church. The air was just really thick with rapture in those days, at least it seemed so at the time. She was never the evangelical type, though. She never told me that I needed to be saved. She was even way more old fashioned than the people of our church in some ways. She had a very primitive spirituality, if that makes any sense. She would tell me on a fairly regular basis that satan was going to carry me off in a potato sack in the middle of the night. (My aunt, incidentally, used to tell my sister and I that the devil lived behind the couch.) Her faith was based much more on folklore than most people.

Thanks for reading my ramblings. I feel like this is an issue we can all agree on here, theists and atheists alike.

That just breaks my heart. 

How could you tell an impressionable child that satan was going to carry him off in the middle of the night?  The child would be terrified to go to sleep.  Not to mention, a life-long fear of couches.  I assume as an adult you only have recliners as a left-over childhood fear?

How did your mother react when the rapture didn't happen in 1988? Or did your grandfather have an excuse for that?   

It also sounds as if your mother believed anything she was told by "the church" without questioning anything.  Were you allowed to ask questions or were you told to "just believe"?

To what do you attribute the belief system of how you were raised?  I really have a hard time wrapping my mind around all this.  It sounds as if poverty might play a big role.

Did you find that getting away from that setting has made you see things in a different perspective (other that recognizing that what was done to you isn't the right thing to do to a child)?  Did you find that not being in the center of that day after day has allowed you some breathing room to search for your own answers?

Do you think you hold onto your beliefs because they permeated your life and you cannot imagine what you'd do if you figured out that maybe they're not what they're cracked up to be?  Letting go can be hard as I'm sure you've seen from some of the posts here on the forums. 

I think some people have a hard time because that's how they identify themselves.  

 

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Personally if a family

Personally if a family member keep on doing things like that I would, at some point, probably end up telling them to disown me so we could get on with our lives, but that is an extreme thing to do.

I made up my mind what seems like a long time ago that knowledge or philosophy is more important then a relationship. Not in the sense that ethics are thrown out the window, but if a person doesn't understand my mind set and gives me bullshit because of it I rather have nothing to do with them family, friend, or not.

Bullshit would include calling me up and crying, but I understand why they might. Honestly my view on this subject isn't something for everyone and I might change it later on. It is something you have to decide what to do about.


You should also keep in mind their mind set. If they really believe you are going to burn they should be trying their hardest to save you.


P.S. I wouldn’t put up with any kind of bullshit for any reason. If someone was calling me while I was trying to sleep or something I’d probably unplug my phone. Just keep in mind I have picked up the phone, informed the caller I was busy, and hung up on them.