I have been born and raised (and subsequently am currently raising my 3 children) in a very strict religious environment. I have, over an extended period of time, had my eyes opened to exactly what nonsense I had come to believe as reality. I would walk away today in a heartbeat but the problem is that every family member, every coworker (I work for minimum wage for the church-yes literally minimum wage-while the pastor and all his family live in million dollar homes), every friend, are all wrapped in this religion and my children are 100% in it to win it at this point (15, 13, and 11). How in the world do I explain to them all of a sudden that everything they know- everything they’ve been taught in christian school, everyone they know, everything I’ve ever told them is all a lie???? I have contacted a secular therapist to try to schedule an appointment (very hard to find deep in the Bible Belt) but I could you some immediate advice from the atheistic masses please and thank you
If you are indoctrinated for 10+ years the damage can't be undone so fast. Just think about how long it took you to realize your irrational believes. I would just try to plant some seeds of doubt. Ask them questions, tell them to be curious about the world. Show them the positive things science has brought to the world. Ask them how they know things that are unrelated to religion and let them compare how they go about it. Ask them why religion is the only thing where knowledge requires a different method. Would they believe other things on faith too?
Those kind of questions.
Show them the bads part of the bible, where slavery is supported, where there's unjustified violence, rape, genocide. Show the the stupid rules nobody adheres to. Ask them why they think the preachers today ignore them.
There is s much you can say, but don't say you lied to them, because you didn't. You believed those things yourself. Lying is done on purpose. You could tell your children that you thought about it more, that you have doubts now and that that's okay. It's okay to have doubts, it's good to have doubts. There are things you can't know no matter what anybody else says and becoming a grown up person means dealing with that fact.
Hi CoCo! I did just this 15 years ago. I knew going in that it would end in divorce for me. Hopefully for you it will not end that way. I lived in the Deep South for 25 years and have been out on the west coast for 6. All the advice given is right on the money. Keep severing your ties and moving away from the extremism. I was in the Duggar Cult so I understand where you are coming from. It is a process not a race, so I just ate that elephant in the room one bite at a time.
Thank you so much for all the wonderful support! I am not financially tied to the church, in fact I have already turned in my notice. My husband makes more than enough to support us while we go through this. I have opened up and talked to him about this. He’s confused but supportive of leaving our particular religion (it’s very controlling) but he can’t grasp the agnostic/atheist thing just yet. I’m thinking a gradual step down may be in order. I may have to “fake it til I make it” and go to another church (that lets me wear pants, shorts, makeup, jewelry, cut my hair, etc) for a while until we can figure out step two. We live over an hour from my husbands job right now because our home is close to the church/school. I have told the kids they won’t be going to christian school this year (that was met with a guilt trip like you wouldn’t believe from my pastor who IMMEDIATELY preached, from the pulpit the same night after I told them, that if you take your kids out of this christian school environment they will basically be doomed). We are starting the process of selling our home and moving closer to my husbands work which gives me an excuse as to why all the changes are happening. I told my daughter last night that I don’t believe you would go to hell if you wear pants . I also told her they may teach evolution at public school because it’s fact and she should be open to learning new things and making new friends. I think slow is the way to go but I’m eager to speak to the therapist as well. Thanks again for all the awesome advice everyone!
It sounds like you are somewhat in crisis-mode right now facing a possible break with something that has been such a big part of your life for so long. Unless you are part of a cult, I would take slow but gradual steps to move away from the church. Find a new job, join a group/interest that is not affiliated with the church, take some classes at a local community college, etc. You need to get over this hump, establish an existence for yourself where you feel strong in yourself as a non-believer, before you upset the apple-cart for your children. If you're kids see you making some changes, and also see that these are happy and healthy changes, they perhaps might be more accepting of changes in their own beliefs.
I think the mistake we sometimes make is that we want others to follow and come along with us at every step of our life path. And, sometimes that just can't and won't happen. To keep relationships intact, at least initially, and I'm thinking primarily of your children, I wouldn't try to force on them a change in their beliefs. Work on your own transition first.
I applaud you for finding a therapist. Let this person be the strength you need in your life right now.
This is a difficult situation. I found myself in a similar situation about 30 years ago. When I stopped believing in Moronism (oops, Mormonism), the church excommunicated me and took my wife's side, encouraging her to leave me. She took the children and disappeared. It was heartbreaking, and I often wondered if I would have been better off pretending to be a good Moron (oops, Mormon) for the sake of keeping my family intact. It was so painful, that I almost killed myself. However, I moved on, and was happy that I at least had my integrity intact.
So, I would suggest you use a great deal of tact and an increase in love toward your family before breaking the news that you are no longer a believer. You may want to test your spouse (and children) first, asking them hypothetical questions about which is more important -- family togetherness, even when beliefs differ, or destroying a family for the sake of religious unity.
Good luck, friend.
My heart aches for you. I have had such a similar experience.
Move cautiously. Your children are old enough to understand reason. Start by asking them questions about science with provable facts. Not in a directly challenging way, but in a way that starts them thinking.
Get them videos and books that will assist them in forming more questions. Direct them to ask anything they need to to you or anyone at the church. Unless you get out of there immediately.
Getting them to start having questions of their own and giving them the freedom to ask is essential. They need to not be afraid to develop their own ideas, hopefully based on facts. They must learn how to tell fact from fiction and overcome indoctrination and fear.
They need to develop critical thinking skills to replace blind faith.
If I can help in any way with the formulation of questions or the like, please let me know. I empathize completely.
Don't be in a hurry. You know what you believe but you can keep it to yourself while you find a new job. Meanwhile, you could emphasise the humanistic elements of Christianity, such as poverty, non-judgement and compassion. Since that's the language that's spoken around you, people can hardly object when you remind people not to judge lest they be judged, that the rich cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, that it's the PEACEmakers that are blessed, that doubt is an essential part of faith etc. There's a fringe of Christianity that's hardly distinguishable from secular humanism, so if you feel comfortable with it sit in that area until you are free from financial dependence on the church and try to school your kids in being decent human beings independent of church doctrine. You can hardly point out the hypocrisy of your own employer, so I would start with the job and I think the rest can follow.
Good luck, and keep in touch.
Have you considered the implications of coming out as an atheist? I lost my wife, my children, friends, my home and life as I knew it when I came out. I'm obviously not happy being shunned by my children but that's the way it goes with indoctrinated people. I don't know to what extent it will affect you and it may not be what I experienced. I came out of the cult that is Jehovah Witnesses so perhaps your situation may be different. I wish you the very best in your decision.
I feel for you. That's a difficult situation to navigate. The first step is to prepare your personal knowledge system. I recommend reading Peter Boghossian's "A Manual for Creating Atheists". It is a framework for developing a personal style of asking quality questions. Questions which make the listener really think about their beliefs, unlocking doubts about those beliefs.
You can win this battle.
I think that you might be best to look for a new job first. What about the other parent(s) of your children? Be careful. You don't know how others will react and you don't want to put yourself and your children into a financially precarious position. There are ministers who have gone through this and there is a private group (theclergyproject.org) to help them. It definitely doable. I have heard an interview with scientologists, and mormans, etc. who have done the same, and wrote books. I would start some searching. There might be some facebook group or something that could offer support and advice. Congratulations on waking up. Best wishes on your journey.
"Go for the cognitive jugular." @irascible nailed it (as usual).
My sentiments exactly!
I can't handle a timid approach to anything.
Be bold. Barrel ahead, and bring your children with you.
It's going to be a process for all of you, best to begin it.
Don't tell them, or anyone else, what your plans are until the
moment you are ready to put them into motion.
Put them in the car, under whatever pretenses you have to, leave
everything behind, and get all of you as far from the crazy people as possible.
Have your therapist recommend someone your kids can
talk to, as well.
This community is an excellent resource. Please avail yourself of the
knowledge and support of it's members.
Good luck to all of you.
Perhaps you can start by teaching not only tolerance but acceptance of those who experience life and spirituality differently. The best way to do that is by getting to know people directly. Someone else suggested joining interest groups, which is a good idea. Introduce your kids to a more diverse network of progressive people—maybe thru volunteer work for an environmental or social justice cause where people tend to be more diverse
Go for the cognitive jugular: How do they know that the Hindu gods are false gods, and why do the Hindus know that the Christian god is a false god?
Tip: the logical fallacy of special pleading for any particular god or gods is exactly that: a logical fallacy.
Lots of advice here, I can only go with what happened to me. Honesty is the best policy with your kids. Dad was an atheist mum was not. He told me of his non-belief but added "This is what I think. Its not necessarily what you should think. You have to make up your own mind on such things and not let anyone else tell how you should think". I guess you know how that turned out.
I would like to suggest that you go slowly...review regularly, in your own mind, what you need and want for you and your family. This will most likely not be easy, as you have 5 different personalities in your own family...the word persuade and not control, comes to mind! And even that must be given with the freedom to come up with their truth...for themselves! Let your daily living define you...not your idealogy of any kind. Idealogy evolves out of study and living and I see that it is never finite...it keeps on evolving! Best of luck on this new journey!
Does, not believing in GOD make you a bad MOM or PERSON?
DOES, not believing in GOD keep you from making sure your children are fed, clothed, safe and protected from harm?
Does, not believing in GOD cause you to treat your fiends and family differently?
There is no proof that there is a GOD, and you cannot prove there is not a GOD because it is impossible to prove a negative.
Why is there only one GOD but so many different RELIGIONS teaching their way to worship a nonexistent DEITY.
Research the reasons why you have doubts, so you can explain your doubts and your position on RELIGION.
Your children have access to smart phones and computers. Tell them to look up any thing they have been told, avoiding the BIBLE. Because the BIBLE has been proven to be UNBELIEVABLE because of the way the BIBLE was translated.
RESEARCH with an open mind because there are too many odd people on the internet with unproven beliefs and advice.
TRUST your instincts.
TRUST your children.
Just make sure you have a believable answer for their questions.
You could ask questions, a few a day, which they would need to think about the answers, such as why do es Gawd allow such suffering...you can use any of todays headlines so they feel relevant. Then you could go on to discuss parts of the Babble from an historical standpoint....for example, the peaceful canaanites being slaughtered so "gawd's chosen" could get their lands....kids that age usually have a strong sense of right & wrong...just get them thinking, soon they will have questions for you! Good luck!
Take it slowly. Detangle yourself first before worrying about the kids. Find a new job, move if possible. Build a strong support system of non-religious friends. When you are ready to deal with the kids, remember to be respectful and not push your new beliefs on them. Explain your new beliefs and then be supportive as they deal with the confusing emotions. Focus on building strong relationships with them and maintaining open conversation and leave it at that. If they are ready to open themselves to a new perspective, they will come to you.
Maybe just ask "innocent" questions that appeal to the strong sense of right & wrong that kids this age have, like why the Cannaanites had to be slaughtered, or why Job went through all that horror? Or, why we are condemned from birth by a "loving" gawd. Have Good discussions, you do not need to convert them, just make them Think.....the rest will take care of itself, just as it did for you.