Telling Your Family You’re An Atheist

I haven’t yet told my family that I’m an agnostic atheist, because I’ve always been worried about the way that they’d react. I know that my mother would be upset and hurt, but she would never yell at me. I love her very much, and she would know that my decision isn’t anything against her, but telling her would also mean telling my stepfather, and he’s the one I’m worried about. The reaction of the mother in this video below is nothing compared to what his would be:

I’m sure she really cares for him, and only reacted the way that she did because she was hurt—but it raises the question, why do people get offended if you don’t share the same beliefs as them? Why do they take it personally? Being atheist doesn’t hurt anyone, so why the hostility? I know I’m in for a similar situation when I tell my own family.

18 thoughts on “Telling Your Family You’re An Atheist

  1. LaShawn, it is unfortunate, that: beliefs, need to be constantly,
    validated – for the believer. Which, is why they usually, find
    congregational, therapy (Service), somewhat, of a boost. But, we
    are individuals: free, to choose, respectively. The fact that the majority of the world’s populace haven’t a clue: as to what
    the human significance, is all about – is rather, disturbing…
    Innumerous, organizations: of religions, traditions, and super-
    stitions – aren’t helping, either… Many, of whom, serve only to facilitate the catalytic perils, of the blind, leading the
    blind. However, man – have, marginally, survived his errors,
    notwithstanding… So far. Owing, of coures, a measure of gratitude: and perhaps, a rite of passage: in honor, of the
    philosophical minds that are responsible, for the revelation of
    the vortex, of spirituality. The hypothesis, of God. Unfortunately, the negative, nuances; injected through corrupted
    factions: promoting personal agendas – spawned a web of parasites… From, voodoo, to lucky charms: predators, of the
    human psyche – “brainwashing by default.” The most lethal of all the predatory tools – masked in the guise (appearance), of
    religion: is, friendship.
    I say to young people, trust your ‘gut instincts’… You do not want to be ‘host’ to a ‘ghost’ if it isn’t holy. Otherwise, you’re looking at the candidacy, of exorcism…

    Safe journey.
    ciao

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  3. I know this is a couple of weeks old but I am new to the community🙂, and that video is both hilarious and sad at the same time.

    My mother was very religious, especially later in her life (she passed away in 2004). She and I never had a conversation about my beliefs, but after I was married she and my wife talked about it occasionally. I think she felt she failed me for not pushing religion on me more. But you believe what you believe, and it doesn’t change the person that you are. The ironic thing is that if is often the religious that are the most offended by the non-believers when they shoud be the most tolerant, as the video demonstrates very well.

  4. Hey cragar, welcome to the community! I agree with you that what you believe doesn’t change who you are, and I’m hoping the mother in that video realized the same about her son. It’s too bad that there isn’t a follow-up video anywhere (at least that I’ve found) to see how she handled the situation after she calmed down. I’m hoping that she took the time to sit down, and talk with him about it more civilly. I’m still debating whether or not I should tell my own mother. Do you ever regret not talking to yours about it? You don’t have to answer if it’s too personal, but I’m just curious.

  5. I don’t mind and I may discuss it more on my blog-this post of yours motivated mine this morning-http://cragar.wordpress.com/. (I am still trying to figure out why my name doesn’t link back to my blog)

    I do regret it a little, but it probably wouldn’t have changed much. My mom was a polar opposite of the mom in that video. She was quiet and reserved and overall a wonderful woman. I think she knew my beliefs and it was later confirmed by my wife when she and my mom discussed religion. My mom and I did discuss it once (sort of) after she knew how I felt. She had been diagnosed with cancer some months before and once when I visited her after she had been admitted to the hospital for the 3rd or 4th time in a six month period she asked me to pray for her even though I wasn’t a believer. And I did, not because I believed or thought it would help, but because she asked me to.

  6. It seems like there is alot more going on in this family than we are shown here. The kid can’t be more than sixteen and the family clearly isn’t the Brady Bunch. These are probably more culturally Christian than actually seeking God’s will for their life. It reminds me of arguments I had with my mom when I was a kid. When I told her I was an atheist at the age of 15 she reacted kindly. I guess she knew I was searching for answers. Four years later I went to India and ended up getting baptized. Ten years later I’m serving in my church. You never know how things will end up, especially when you’re a kid.

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  8. I’m still trying to tell my parrents and friends. It’s a process. I doubt my ability to tell my mother face to face, I may have to write a letter instead. And I particularly find it interesting that the “Christian”s first reaction is to “punish” the kid. I give him kudos for staying strong.

  9. I’m going through a similar experience. my mother and I are extremely close…the idea of her believing I am hell-bound (literally) makes me sick. I mean, the thought of telling her that I even have doubts makes me ill…but I don’t know how much longer I can pretend. I am forced to lie all the time about my beliefs…I am in a christian organization, all my friends are christians, my family….not just christians, very black and white. I mean you’re not saved if you believe that homosexuality is ok etc….I am so afraid. I don’t know how much longer I can take this. I am trying to make myself believe again, but it doesn’t work. I have this heaviness in my chest like a vice on my heart. I want to get numb, to become invisible. I can’t get into a romantic relationship with anyone without A)lying to them or B)asking them to lie to my family.
    It’s….for lack of a better word…hell.

  10. M, I’m sort of stuck in the same position you are. When I stopped believing it was hard being around my family at first. They’re all devoted Christians, and I suddenly felt like an outsider, and afraid to tell them.

    I can’t say what will be best for you in your situation, since everyone’s is different. If you do decide to tell them, they probably will be mad at first, but after some time will (hopefully) accept you for who you are. I know my family would be very upset if I told them, and that’s why I haven’t yet. I also tried forcing myself to believe, but that doesn’t work either. Your family just needs to see that there is so much more holding you together than just a common religion.

    I find that writing here helps. It’s a nice outlet to be able to say how you really feel, and talk to people who went through the same thing. I’ve met a lot of nice people through wordpress, and maybe it could help you too.

  11. I look at it this way — if a believer feels free to let on to everybody that he believes, then a non-believer must be allowed the same liberty to express his or her unbelief. I was an atheist for well over 30 years, and I did nothing to conceal my total lack of belief, not even from my family. In fact, I used to go out of my way to pull religion (especially organised religion) to pieces. Of course, I did run into some hostility — but not anything really alarming. My life took an about-turn very recently when I was rushed to a hospital where the doctors informed my family that I was going to die. But then, a group of people walked into that ICU, laid hands on me and prayed for my survival. To the amazement of the doctors, my heart began beating vigorously again. I was saved. Just as I had forcefully advocated atheism in the past, I now talk in favour of theism. I have played on both sides of the fence, and I know how it is to be an atheist. I also feel that an atheist should not conceal his lack of belief. I mean, don’t live a lie ! Your family needs to know. Give them a chance to pray for you (albeit behind your back !), so that they can feel they at least tried to help you — whether or not you feel you need help. You owe them that much. They are family, remember.

  12. This is with reference to my December 4, 2007 comments. Since then, I have been receiving some messages welcoming me back to the Church. Hence the need for his add-on comment. I am not back with the Church and I continue to detest organised religion. But yes, I am back in the belief that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour. The reason for this belief is outlined in my earlier comments. I communicate directly wih God who, even the Bible says, needs no mediator apart from Christ. This means that I do not feel the need to use a church as a stepping stone to heaven. All else stands as aforementioned — I was an atheist and now I am a theist. And in both worlds I did not find it essential to conceal my beliefs, or unbelief. To do that would be to live a lie.

  13. Maby Im writing this because your good looking or maby because I had to go through a big mess when I deconverted, in past a fundy studying theology on University with the gold of becomming a priest, but instead I became the Devil´s Chaplain…, but at first only my closest relatives got to know all about this, the others, the ones who I in the past had a commen beliefsystem and a fellowship with have gradually decreased all contacts, everything is all of a sudden quiet, that is where I am right now, maby because I dont say so much, not a Dawkins blabbering personality.

    I have problems with placing myself in a certain category so I am somewhere inbetween: atheist, atheistagnostic, agnostic, freethinker, non-religious, I try to see what belief or opinion is most congruent with my own nature, so far religion is not.

    Interessting site, I saw it through “deconversion”.

    Bye

  14. I guess telling your closest relatives about your atheism depends on how religious they are, my family can not be considered DEPELY religious, but more like: the belive in God, love and life after death, details in the bible are not either known or pointed out, they are usually also belive that the bible says “OK” for homosexuality and democracy hence my family can be characterized perty liberal, if conservative I belive you should be more carefull when you speak of the bible, Jesus and the new testament morality.

    Most of most of my friends where fundamentalists or conservative, those friends are gone, the closest fundamentalistic friends I try to avoid talking religious matters to now, my work also makes it possible to hide for weeks at a time when I work at sea comming home for 2-3 days at the time. But since I came back from the University where I studied religion and theology I have not been going to any fellowship og church that I did before, now it is a year since I came back, so they are probably woundering about what happened to me because this wery religious person that they knew has not shown his intensity since he came home from Denmark, before he left he was preaching on several occations, playing in gospelchoirs and going to prayer meetings, nobody has seen him do any of this in a year now.

    Right now I just hope that they think: Well he also has dis job that makes religious activism inpossible, he only is hom 2-3 days at a time, the he is back on sea.

    by

  15. Hi,
    I’m a closet agnostic Atheist. My whole family is religous, I’m 12 so there’s really nothing I can do about getting taken to church twice a week.
    I’ve never told my mum I don’t believe in God, though, she’d probably cry then scream then cry some more, scream some more and drag me to church EVERY DAY of the week.
    I’ll tell them when I’m 18 and safetly away from my mum’s house, that way I can avoid being prayed for intensively everyday for remission of my sins…

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