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What to do about my father?

My father is aware that I am atheist, And as a Deacon in a Baptist church he tries to confront my non beliefs on a regular basis. He just turned 81 years old today, And I know is time here is growing shorter. I love and respect my father and don't want to give him a shadow of a doubt of his own beliefs. Does anyone else here have this dilemma?

Johndc 4 Mar 1

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My conclusion aobut myown parenst was that it would hurt them far worse to give them doubts of their own beliegs than ti woudl to let them go on believeing they were happy. Ignorance is only bliss until reality comes crushing down.


Dad please let me be me and ;love me for who I am without trying to change me.


We choose our own path in this life. some people choose rather hard ones racked with fear and hate. others follow strict ones. the point is to find what makes you happy and content and make those around you in your little world happy and content. don't begrudge him the path he has chosen. smile and tell him how much you love him. address his concerns with a smile and a hug. it's all about loving and helping one another.


That is a tough position. I find it helpful in a family situation that you wish to preserve, to focus on the values you share.


Your first responsibility is to yourself...specially since your father seems no to respect your feelings
Age shouldn't be part of this matter since I don't doubt he was always confrontational.


Not me. I informed my Dad, and my Dad ejected me. Thirty years now, and he is 83. I hope you figure your on best way.

😟 I'm sorry...


I'm sorry for your situation. I never had that dilemma.


John, I have a similar situation with my soon to be 80 year old Pentacostal father, who is a loving person, though doggedly blind in his faith. My question to you is how your father confronts your atheism. Is it talking to you directly, or behind your back to others he hopes will put pressure on you? What he says and to whom could inform how you choose to respond.

My father periodically tells me directly that he worries for my salvation and hopes I will return to Jesus. I have become more blunt with my responses over time, but no approach I have yet tried has seemed to make any difference.

Rather than trying to shatter his faith paradigm, I have generally tried to show him that, if God exists as his scriptures describe, as all loving, all knowing and all powerful, then NO such being would ever condemn us to eternal torture for our sincere doubt , which God would know full well was not rebellion, rather the honest result of the limits of our feeble human he created us, no less. I point out that the hell narrative of Christians is very murky and vague in scripture and makes absolutely no sense for an omniscient creator that knew from the beginning which of his creations ultimately would believe what. I also remind him that his bible admonishes Christians not to judge and to accept that, whatever he thinks he knows, is still only childish tiny fragments of the whole truth, if even that, so he should not concern himself too greatly with judging my honest perspective, as none of us has the "whole truth" figured out anyway. I remind him to reconsider what his gospels emphasize as central teaching, that is to love one another, practice kindness and humility and forgiveness of transgressions. I suggest that if I am doing that, I am actually fulfilling Jesus' central teaching, even if my honest doubts question the religious aspects of my father's faith paradigm.

I have said all that over time, and he does not know how to refute my reasoning, but he still worries I am going to hell. (Sigh)


The older/weaker/sicker he gets, I would tell him pretty much what he wants to hear. That's more loving than standing your ground. After all, it's not like he's going to resent you lying in the nonexistent afterlife. It's obvious you love him so make him happy and at peace.

I humored my father by allowing him to pray before eating at his table. I had no problem doing that, although it was distasteful. He had more of a "don't ask don't tell" policy generally, so all I had to do was observe a few shibboleths that I had grown up with anyway.


My grandfather is also 81 and very skeptical about religion, while my grandmother is like the queen of superstition and she's 83. I choose not to bother them too much with that stuff they're getting to old for it.


I have some family that are incredibly religious. Right now we keep it so we don't really talk about religion at all.

I told them "I will not try to convince you to stop believing as long as you don't try to convert me."


Could you just say to him something like, "I love and respect you, and that includes your religious views, but it doesn't work for me. I don't want this to be a point of conflict for us, so I'd rather that we not discuss religion at all. I'd rather just enjoy your company"? Would he respond positively to that?

Honest communication is always best. He might not respond positively to it if he's either an ass or if he is genuinely afraid for his son's soul and/or feels that his son's unbelief is in some way proof that he failed as a father and maybe even a stain on his own soul. He may see it as his mission to right this wrong while he still can. He may not have much of an idea how to go about it. He is not eager to accept that it's outside his conrol.

Sadly with some of these people a loving, respectful conversation is not possible, but I would give it a real shot. "Dad, I know you're unhappy and perhaps concerned because I have left the faith. I want you to know this is my decision and I own it. It's not because of anything you did or failed to do. It's not because I don't love and respect you. I want you to know that the love and respect I've always had for you is unchanged. I love you and care about you and want your mind to be at ease, and I don't want to fight about it. I don't need you to approve or embrace where I'm at -- I'm not asking you to agree with me or change yourself for me. You're my father and I'm your son -- that will always be true. Can we just enjoy the time we have left together as father and son, even if we no longer agree on all our beliefs?

Something to that effect.

good suggestion for a tough dilemma.


I go to church with my mother because it makes her happy. It's not contagious.

Admirable, but deciding to do that is a very different decision for someone who is 25 vs 65, very different for someone with a traumatic / toxic / dysfunctional experience in the church vs someone who just was more a cultural / social participant. Also depends on the nature and health status of the parent/child relationship itself. I'm glad you could accommodate your mother like this. If mine had asked it of me, and I lived nearby, I would probably humor her at least partially myself. But I know people for whom doing that would be very unhealthy.


Love of family often requires compromise and sacrifice. Find out why it is so important to him that you "believe", then see if there is a compromise that you can be comfortable with that will reassure him.

Betty Level 7 Mar 1, 2018

You might have to just agree to disagree and let him say what he wants. If it gets too deep for ya a gentle nudge to put a stopper in it and let it go. You won't change him (nor should you) and he won't change you. Nice hat, btw.

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