Being an agnostic is especially challenging when you're surrounded with religion family and friends. Often they will try to convert you to their religion, become hostile towards you or even disown you. What are your thoughts on how to retain a good relationship with religion people?
I don't. My family doesn't like to be controversial. So I don't talk about the things that would shake the boat. Especially since we live in a very religious and conservative area of Maryland. I'm an outspoken animal rights activist, vegetarian and atheist so I'm pretty alone hear when it come to voicing my opinions and thoughts.
Luckily, I don't have to anymore. I was adopted by a single parent, and she died in '96. None of the rest of my adoptive family ever truly treated me as such, and have had no contact w/ them since her passing. I used to have a few religious friends, but as time has passed, I've had to let go of each of them due for one reason or another. Each one has shown their "true colors" in some form or fashion.
We basically avoid the topic in order to get along. Mom is not religious anymore, but has a god belief. When she takes shots at me, "oh yeah, YOU no longer believe in...", I stop talking. She's gotten better at avoiding that. I am not closeted, but tend to keep my beliefs private.
My father was super religious. I accompanied him to church when necessary, but had to bite my tongue.
My "aunt" (a family friend) that I took care of as she aged was always pushing me. She had been a missionary to Taiwan for 35 years. Every time I visited she tried to get me to go back. When I took a plane flight to help her visit family, I was sitting beside her. She started in on her quest immediately. I told her that there is no way that I was going to worship anyone that would send most of the humans to hell, and that I did not want to talk about it any more. I put on my headphones and she finally got the message.
I have to deal with a religious Mormon family on a daily basis.
When I was 18, they kicked me out for coming out of the closet about my atheism.
Since then, we have worked it out. They decided it was more important to have me in their life than to push religion on me. I've made it clear that I feel like saying prayers over food is a form of ridiculousness akin to trying to cast spells. I don't pull punches (so to speak) when I call out something I feel is ridiculous. They never showed me the same respect for my beliefs that I show them and even though I don't pull punches, I make sure it's constructive criticism.
I have learned to pick my battles, but when it's something they are doing that directly hurts them, or myself, or someone else I make it a point to voice my opinion.
They don't really bother me about it anymore but they can still talk to me about the goings on of people in the church and what they are up to.
It works, but religion is a wedge. It drives people apart.
I'm lucky that I'm 27 now, and I've worked in fields where my vocal and rhetorical skill was honed. I don't let them walk all over me with their insults of my secular lifestyle. And I've made it abundantly clear I think my way of life is more based in logic, empathy, reason, and thought than theirs is whenever they push. I also have the rhetorical skill to illustrate that point.