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6 years ago  ::  Dec 24, 2007 - 1:21PM #1
LeprechaunEater
Posts: 1
I am an atheist but I come from a very religous family. I can't tell anyone, including my frineds, that I am an atheist. If I said anything, my family would be in a crisis. Beliefnet is all I have to express myself.

Is their anyone else out there who is an atheist but can't tell someone else? I know I can't be alone. If you can tell other people, then why do you think your fellow atheists feel like they have to be in the closet?
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 24, 2007 - 7:20PM #2
PancakeNinja
Posts: 4
I've been an atheist since the summer of 2006, but I didn't come out of the closet to my family until Christmas 2006 (my stupid little sister outed me) and I just came out o my school.  It's not as difficult, few will actually care about your beliefs, and some will accept them and be willing to debate and hear more, and others will be total arses about it... it depends on the people you know really.
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 25, 2007 - 12:51AM #3
BillThinks4Himself
Posts: 3,156
[QUOTE=LeprechaunEater;162514]I am an atheist but I come from a very religous family. I can't tell anyone, including my frineds, that I am an atheist. If I said anything, my family would be in a crisis. Beliefnet is all I have to express myself.

Is their anyone else out there who is an atheist but can't tell someone else? I know I can't be alone. If you can tell other people, then why do you think your fellow atheists feel like they have to be in the closet?[/QUOTE]

I have experienced a kind of start and stop turbulence in owning up to my own atheist identity.  Part of the problem is the hassle that comes when people hear the word, "atheist."  Knowing how much people cough and spit up blood, I've had my share of regressions when I've considered it prudent to keep my views and my identity to myself.  I've since decided that such "prudence" is not good for me or for other atheists.  One reason atheism has such a bad name among otherwise decent people is that religious fanatics have maligned us with impunity.  But another reason is that so many of us have let them by hiding our own beliefs and identity.  As long as atheists are hiding, bullies will continue to blackist and belittle.

I'm not the kind of advocate who goes out of his way to destroy or threaten another's beliefs or traditions, but it's important to me for skeptics and freethinkers to have an equal place at the table.  So, while I don't force people to think like me, I consider it important to be myself.  I expect people to react.  So be it.  To the extent possible, I'm prepared to discuss what I believe.  But if my openness forces others to reevaluate their longstanding prejudices, that's progress.
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 27, 2007 - 4:20PM #4
Mriana
Posts: 26
No you're not alone.  My older son and a small handful of others know my position.  My relatives don't know though and everytime I call them, it seems like was get into a religious battle.  I have a feeling they are guessing about my position, but have not thought to ask.  Either that or I get the Inquistition which is a bit threatening to me.  There is no middle ground.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 08, 2008 - 12:01PM #5
Starrylight
Posts: 10
Well, I guess I am closeted as an agnostic when it comes to certain people in my family who are fundamentalists.  Fortunately, they live far far away and I don't encourage lengthy phone conversations.  I know they would start a campaign if I let them know.  I also have a fellowship community, UU, where being an agnostic/atheist is OK.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 08, 2008 - 4:23PM #6
rbchaddy2000
Posts: 1,277
I am a non-Christian panentheist with strong secular convictions. At 58, I am at last being honest with church friends. Richard
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 30, 2008 - 10:28AM #7
RHawkins68
Posts: 6
I am concerned about how to handle this situation too.  My wife knows.  Many of my colleagues, most of my friends and a few members of my family know about my beliefs too.  But my Catholic mother does not and my Catholic brother says it will kill her.  I haven't told her yet, but I share so much with my mom.  What to do...
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 30, 2008 - 10:44AM #8
AintKatie
Posts: 1,657

RHawkins68 wrote:

I am concerned about how to handle this situation too.  My wife knows.  Many of my colleagues, most of my friends and a few members of my family know about my beliefs too.  But my Catholic mother does not and my Catholic brother says it will kill her.  I haven't told her yet, but I share so much with my mom.  What to do...



Do YOU believe she will flat-out die if she finds out you're not the good Catholic she thinks you are? Or is your brother being dramatic?
How old are you, how old is she?

If she's old, and ill, I say decide what's most important:
(1) clearing your own conscience by outing yourself no matter what the consequences for her -- or --
(2) considering her feelings, and frailty, and keeping your mouth shut

If she's not old and ill, and you wish to be honest with her, take her aside..so you can be alone..and tell her gently, kindly, reasonably. Don't turn it into a drama, don't be defensive, don't be accusatory. Just say how you feel, let her know you love her, and do the best you can to comfort her.

You know, I'm trying to imagine my father telling his Catholic parents the same thing. He chickened out. In fact, he never even told me til he was just weeks away from dying. I asked him straight out, for the 142nd time, if he believed in a god. And he finally said something other than..it's none of your business. He said, I'm an atheist. That was it. No drama, no discussion. A simple statement. Pissed me off, actually, and I told him so.

See, I'd finally realized my own atheism at around age 17 or 18 and announced it to my family. Yes, it was dramatic..what can I say, I was young and it was upsetting. Anyway, he never said a word of encouragement or support or understanding. I had to sit with it all alone forever after. So, I said, You know, Daddy, you COULD have made it easier for me if you'd let me know I wasn't totally alone. He grumbled. I think he thought about it, but it was too late anyway.

It's good to be honest..but not at someone else's expense. So, if your mom is old and sick, leave it be. If she's younger and sturdier, do what you have to do to maintain integrity. That's my advice.



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6 years ago  ::  Jan 30, 2008 - 12:55PM #9
rbchaddy2000
Posts: 1,277
RHawkins: My 91 year old Mom knows that I have returned to being a free thinker. We dearly love each other. Richard
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 30, 2008 - 5:03PM #10
beatific
Posts: 3
[QUOTE=RHawkins68;251744]I am concerned about how to handle this situation too.  My wife knows.  Many of my colleagues, most of my friends and a few members of my family know about my beliefs too.  But my Catholic mother does not and my Catholic brother says it will kill her.  I haven't told her yet, but I share so much with my mom.  What to do...[/QUOTE]

What? You never kept a secret from your parents before?
Not that you want to as an adult; however, *what's the benefit of her finding out you don't believe?*
Will she feel better? Probably not.
Will you feel better having gotten it off your chest? Maybe, probably not.
Now what's a less selfish choice: keeping your mother being happy and in the dark or making her unhappy and aware that you don't share her beliefs?
For thousands and thousands of years, children have lived secret lives that their parents have not known about. It's a tradition that works. I'm being serious here...

... but how reliable is your brother? It probably won't kill her. My advice: don't announce it, but you really don't have to hide it, either. She may figure it out on her own. So go to Mass and be a good son, but don't take Communion, etc.
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