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Hello all,
I'm quite new here, but am going through some really awful experiences with my family because of my atheism... I am 47, have been an atheist for at least 27 years, BUT I come from a family of 10, and EVERYONE in my family is a Christian (the type that positively can't leave you alone, as it's their "job" to "save" you).
I live several provinces away, so it usually only is an issue from time to time, but nothing I can't handle. But now, I've come "home" as both of my elderly parents came near death this month. Actually my dad is still in intensive care.

Well, it started with my mother today (86, had a pacemaker put in 3 weeks ago). She started on the subject. I was hoping it wouldn't come up, as I can't lie, I don't want to hurt her, and I certainly can't start believing in fairy tales because it would make her feel better! She became very upset (as did I, as she let me know that according to her religion, I should stay in my psychologically abusive marriage, and just pray). She asked how I got this way, and I tried to explain, but clearly that was impossible without upsetting her.... I'm at a complete loss as to how to deal with this?

Then, I got blasted and put down by more family members for upsetting her. Then I also had to hear it all over again, how terrible it is that I got "like this," how can I be so blind/stubborn, how can I lead my children to hell, am I not scared of hell, disrespecting God, etc and on and on...
So hurtful and insulting. Sorry for the long post - just wondering, does anyone have any suggestions?

Just so upset, as this is making an already stressful situation so much worse ?

TIA

DanielleRT 4 Apr 25

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39 comments

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10

No need to explain anything. Just be self-contained and vague. If someone starts getting religious just calmly state, "I don't believe that way." And keep repeating it like a parrot each time they say something religious to you.

Also, ignore them every time they bring it up. Act indifferent, get busy elsewhere, leave the room to do something somewhere else, mumble "Um-hum," in a distracted manner as though humoring a young child. Don't ever pay attention to them or even look at them unless they are behaving in a positive manner, then smile and interact normally with them.

This behaviorist method trained my parents to stop attacking my children and me within three visits.

9

Yes a lot of us get beat up by the christians.They will condemned you to hell in a heart beat. Sorry you are having to go through this. You are among friends now. You will be okay.

8

Post length is fine, sorry you are copping this, old fashioned families seem to like to enforce everything on us. We may need a group for family black sheep. Hang in there, you are not responsible for their blind spots.

6

I am so sorry you are having this experience. Families should offer unconditional love and support. You don't need to be anything or anyone for anybody else. I would remind them that you still love them and respect their views and ask that they respect yours.

5

Well with Christianity and most Abrahamic religions being fear based painted as faith they are afraid for you, hence, the word 'saved'.

Khmm Level 5 Apr 25, 2018
4

Get out of that toxic environment asap.

4

Welcome to our supportive but humble home. I would just everyone to mind their own business. You have made your choice and that there will be no more discussion around the subject. You are out numbered so don't even go there !

3

You can't argue with belief... so don't try.

I agree

3

My father gave me this advice many years ago and I use it with him, which pisses him off. Smile, agree, and do what you want anyway. No one can live your life but you. You do not need to validate your beliefs, or non beliefs, to people who, you know, will not accept your views. I have developed a thick skin and don't really care what others think of me. I make my own way in this world and I don't owe anyone any explanation. If someone wants to have an honest, civil conversation about religion then I'm all for that. At this stage in your mothers life you probably won't be able to change her mind and getting her to see your point will be just as challenging.

I have many christian friends who I would not get into a religious debate with because I know their faith is so ingrained they will not accept anything I have to say. Because I value them as a friend and love them I stay off that topic. I'm lucky in that my immediate family is agnostic/atheist or on the fence. I do have some family that are religious fanatics (one cousin in particular) but I just smile, nod my head, and do my own thing. It's just not worth it sometimes, pick your battles.

Just smile, agree, and do your own thing. For what it's worth, that's my advice

3

It's a horrible situation, and it sounds like you are the lightning rod for the huge amount of grief and tension that is shot through your family right now.
This may sound weird, but maybe try to apologise to your mum. NOT for being who you are, be proud of that. But tell her your sorry that it causes her pain, and that was never your intention.
She probably sees your rejection of something she holds so dear as a failure on her part, so maybe try to tell her about the positive things you have gained from your relationship. Shit, I hope there are some.
Anyhoo, wishing you strength and endurance from the other side of the pond.

3

There is no easy solution to your situation (and I'm sorry to hear of your psychologically abusive marriage too =[). You are never going to be able to satisfy your family members with anything you say. I think the best you can hope for is to mitigate the negativity by simply telling them all that you love them, you are not going to suddenly become a believer again, and in order to foster as normal a relationship as possible, you and they need to agree to disagree on the topic of religion. You don't need to be saved, you don't want to be saved. Make the topic taboo after explaining these points. I'm very sorry you're having to deal with this situation, especially at a time you're trying to be there for your parents and family. I hope this is helpful.

3

I would say my "I love you's" and "goodbye's" and go focus on getting out of your abusive marriage.

You are not going to get anything but grief there and need to end the pain of your day to day. It's hard but cutting the toxic people out of your life should be your priority.

Good luck and PM me if you want.

3

Maybe say, I'm curious...When you get to heaven will you have any sorrow or pain? The answer will surely be No! Well then, if me or people you know and love aren't there, but are instead burning in hell will you then be happy they are getting their just punishment. If the answer is Yes...then I don't know who you will be, but you won't be my mother and if god wipes our memory from you that would not only be Sad, but a really dirty trick and you still wouldn't be my mother. I really wouldn't want to go to a place where I wouldn't remember you or have my family and friends there too. If you're god truly is a loving God he will find a place for me there too don't you think?

3

Say to them this; " What do you want me to do, believe? You cannot force yourself or anyone else to believe in anything. Lie, pretend to believe? That would be an insult to me, you and your god (tho shalt not bear false witness). You have your faith, it is yours not mine. Much as I respect your choices and the code you live by. I cannot make that leap of faith. I am stony ground. Do not cast pearls before swine. The fact that I am here is proof of the love I have for my family. Now prove your love and let us agree to disagree. You may silently pray for me if you wish and if your god is real he may intervene as he did with Saul. Until such time arises, please leave me be on this matter as I will do for you. "
As for your mum, ask her if she loves you and wants you to be happy? She will answer yes of course. "Then let me make my own decisions. I am not the 1st person to leave a marriage and I will not be the last. Two presidents and the future king of England are divorced. Was Reagan a bad man? Should Tina Turner have stayed with Ike? You did not raise a fool. Please don`t treat me like one"

3

Oh, dear,what a difficult situation to be in. All I can suggest is to develop selective hearing. (Husbands do that a lot) Train yourself not to hear what they say. Smile kindly and sing your favorite song in your head. Your ordeal will be over soon.

3

Ugh. I'm so sorry. It sounds like a nightmare.

I think I would likely say to her that my relationship with god is personal, and for her not to worry herself with it. Something like that. As far as the other family members go, I'd likely call out their hypocrisy and tell them to get bent, but I don't know anything about your relationships with them.

Again, I'm really sorry you're having to go through this. Take care of yourself.

3

I don’t have a good answer for you. I suppose when I find myself in similar situations, I tactfully end such conversations as quickly as possible and try to steer things back towards common ground as soon as I can.

2

If I were in your situation, when you are talking with your older family members and the topic were broached, I would simply say something like, "we get to spend so little time together, I don't want to waste it by arguing about this," and try to change the subject. When speaking with the rest of your family that is closer in age with you and younger, I would start quoting the Bible to them. I have found there is no better way to show how ridiculous Christianity is, than by reading the Bible! If you can get them to doubt any of it, or if you can show them how atrocious parts of it is, start questioning why they would believe any of it at all if they are only cherry picking the parts they like. I hope this helps!

2

Not having a better way to say it, the members of your family are mentally ill. They've been brainwashed into believing in nonsense, and there isn't anything that you can possibly say that you could cure them. Living in an alternate reality as they do, it's best to agree with them. It's not a compromise in principle to do so. It's just giving them one more lie that they'll gladly believe in. Completely worth it, for them to shut up with their nonsense, I'd say.

2

My Best Wishes to your parents health. I am not a militant atheist, never trying to prove My Rightness. Most of the time never brought up by my family... there are enough bad examples of those with faith and I am considered a good human being as I am. I do wonder if I get terminally ill, will there be a gesture to try to "save me" at the last moment. Time will tell. Boundaries and Respect should be important.

2

I am sorry you're in an intolerable situation,tied every which way - If it were me, I would just tell her I love her - not wait for an answer and then go. You came and did your duty and are being put under intolerable pressure you either stay and face all the guilt tripping and harm; or love them from afar. I guess that also depends upon how strong you are but staying stuck gives you no power to change anything at all. Your brothers and sisters are the ones capable of seeing this through without self harm.

2

Sorry for what you're going through.

Objectively what's happening is you're a dutiful child coming home to help in a time of crisis and they're being asshats. Personally I would tell them that I'm trying to do them a kindness and be helpful but if they can't put aside their prejudices about my personal beliefs (and mind their own business) then I will leave.

In my experience though daughters are far less able than sons to have boundaries around this. My wife has a similar situation with her family of origin although it doesn't involve religion (they are entirely areligious). It is just a dysfunctional family for various other reasons and so every time she has any contact with them they won't take yes for an answer and always find some way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Anyway -- she is hellbent on visiting her father and step-monster briefly on our way home from vacation next month when I would not personally give them the time of day. She is doing this for something she calls "closure" and that I call "indigestion". She plans to go in there, head held high, and be above it all, but I can guarantee you as sure as the sun rises, this time next month she'll be distraught and hurt over it and not at all triumphant. So I support her in this (one last time anyway) but I think it's a fool's errand. Your mileage may vary.

2

Personally I would advise all family members that my religions beliefs or lack thereof are not going to be discussed anymore. If one or more started I'd not reply on that subject.

2

You're not alone, if that helps at all. I am a pariah. I don't mind if you message me to vent.

So am I, I'm an outcast as well.

2

Use SE,one on One with them
Street Epistomology is using the Socratic Method on folks to discover what they believe and why they believe it.
SURPRISE!
Most folks don't know what they really believe (they do not think about it) and have less reason why they believe it.

Yes, I have been touting SE as well.

@fearlas It si effective. and especially with these odd social things, folks at work, family and so forth.
They might never change their minds but they stop telling you what to think
They don't want those hard questions again!

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