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Community => Religion and Philosophy => Topic started by: Her3tiK on June 03, 2012, 01:31:17 am

Title: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Her3tiK on June 03, 2012, 01:31:17 am
Hey all, not sure how many of you follow Freethought Blogs, but one of the contributors, Greta Christina, is looking for coming out stories (http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/05/30/coming-out-atheist-stories-and-advice/#comment-73308) for her next book. She's basically compiling the experiences of nonbelievers to share their stories, and is asking for people to leave a comment describing their experiences or, if you'd like to share but prefer more privacy, send her an email. I thought it was a neat idea and decided to leave my story as a comment, and would love to know if anyone else shares their experiences for her next book as well. That, and I'd love to know y'alls coming out stories if you'd like to share them (there's probably been a thread for this before, but it was a while ago).
Quote
I kind of feel like I was tricked in to telling my family I'm an atheist. My parents knew I'd been teetering between atheist and agnostic throughout middle/high school and were fine with it, but I hadn't planned on telling the rest of my (rather Catholic) family for quite some time.
I came out at a family gathering in our home town of San Diego, where my dad and his siblings were planning my grandmother's 70th birthday. At one point, the discussion turned to my dad's girlfriend talking about how her son needed a teacher/sponsor so he could be Confirmed to the Catholic faith. It was at this point that my dad sarcastically (but playfully) said I should do it. I said "no", he asked why not and, without really thinking, I said "because I'm an atheist". All the conversation in the room stopped, and all of my aunts and uncles just stared at me. I distinctly remembered one of them saying "so you think life has no purpose?" and how much that stung.
For the most part, my family avoids the issue in person; I know they're a little uncomfortable with it, but it's not something we really discuss, and I'm fine with that. My grandmother is surprisingly supportive, though we share a lot of opinions on related topics. The uncle that asked if I thought life had no purpose, however, doesn't seem to be able to accept that I don't believe in gods. I've received several emails from him about how much of a shame it is that I apparently see no value in life (in response to my request to not be included in the exchange of Christmas gifts), and he's recently removed me from his Facebook. I know that it's stupid and petty, but he won't bring it up when we see each other, despite my repeated offers to discuss it. That, more than anything, has been especially hard to cope with.
I responded to most of this uncle's emails with explanations of the things I enjoy in life that give me purpose, including links to relevant information (music, science, etc.) where possible, and I've tried to not touch the specifics of why I don't believe, so as to not offend him, but it doesn't seem to have mattered.
Fortunately, I was somewhat involved in atheist communities online when I came out, and had a large circle of friends who were at least not religious by the time my uncle flipped out on me (The two events are about 5yrs apart). They both helped me sort through the issue to some degree, though I don't know that I'm going to be able to reconcile this without sitting down with my uncle/family and hashing this out.
I think that, if I could have gotten more control over coming out, I would have preferred to bring it up on my birthday. That way, I could've said that all I wanted was a discussion about it, and possibly a Q&A, to get as much awkwardness out of the way without taking up a holiday like Easter or Thanksgiving or something, and thus not ruining someone else's special day. I've never really been one to skirt issues like this, so it feels weird to be sort of forced to do it now, but I don't want to feel like other relatives have disowned me over what is, to me at least, a minor philosophical disagreement.
I don't regret coming out, it would've happened by now one way or another, but I am definitely not happy with how it happened. Overall, I'd say it was a good thing. I'm not very good at keeping quiet about sensitive issues like religion, so having it out in the open at least deadens the shock a little when I make some off-hand remark about the pope or something.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: ThunderWulf on June 03, 2012, 11:45:52 am
That's pretty interesting.  Might have to think about submitting my story.  I'll type it later though, because I'm like half awake right now. :P
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: TenfoldMaquette on June 03, 2012, 10:27:11 pm
I "came out Atheist" to my family, who ignored it - the same way they ignore everything else about me that doesn't fit into their little pre-conceived idea of who and what I am. As far as they're concerned, I'm Episcopalian like they are, and that's that - my opinion doesn't matter because I don't get a say. One of the many, many reasons I don't speak to them anymore.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: The Right Honourable Mlle Ant├ęchrist on June 03, 2012, 10:35:50 pm
I feel like my "coming out" story is far too boring to be submitted. Raised Anglican, slowly expressed more and more skepticism about religion until I was finally just like, "Yeah, I'm an atheist, guys.", and never really faced much other than the standard, "But how can you handle believing that life is pointless?" crap, though my dad does still make some passive aggressive comments about it from time to time.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: ThunderWulf on June 03, 2012, 11:54:12 pm
Okay, so here's my story.

Quote
My "Coming Out Atheist" story happened when I was 16.

I first started doubting my faith when I was in my pre-teens, but my family, who are all Catholic, didn't know anything about this until I was more than halfway through high school.  By that point I was rather involved with a lot of the online community.  I had even started making some videos on the subject on my first YouTube channel.  A now former friend of mine happened to stumble upon a video I made for an "Atheist Challenge" about why I didn't believe anymore.  What I didn't know about that person before then was that he was extremely bigoted against atheism and non-religious people.

Instead of talking to me about it or even just telling me the video made him feel uncomfortable, he passive aggressively sends my little sister a link to the video.  My sister of course ran and told my parents, who watched the whole video before I even got home from work that day.  They apparently thought that the contents of the video were pretty blasphemous, and were pissed off when I got home.  I knew I was in trouble, but I hadn't anticipated what happened next.

Before I could even wrap my head around what was going on, my family (excluding my brother who was away) had started LITERALLY exorcising my room.  My sister cut out a cross from a sheet of construction paper, and she and my mom wrote prayers on it and taped it to my bedroom door.  Meanwhile, my dad  lit a candle from when they saw the pope in NY and sprinkle absolutely everything I owned with holy water supposedly from my baptism.  My father then had me sit down at my computer with him behind me, and forced me to full out delete my YouTube account while he was there watching.

A few months after the incident, things had cooled down a bit.  It was at this point I definitely noticed a trend between my family members.  My dad and my sister were still pretty much in denial, while my mom and my brother were seeming to start being somewhat more accepting about it.  I still remember that my mom was disappointed that I didn't believe in a "higher power" anymore, while my dad more concerned that I "wasn't Christian".  Overall, my family basically swept the whole thing under the rug, and still act like I'm Christian in front of relatives who don't know I don't believe yet.

Ironically, people outside my family were a lot more supportive about this revelation than my family were.  My coworkers mostly have very similar beliefs and were behind me 100% through everything, as were some of my good friends.  If I were to redo the events that unfolded back then, I probably would have told my parents myself, as I belief that would have gotten a less drastic response.  However, I still feel that holding my head high through it all and refusing to cave in and believe what people want me to has made me a stronger person in the long run.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: RavynousHunter on June 04, 2012, 12:34:27 am
Man, my coming out story's boring...damn my parents and their "salvation by acts" stance.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: czechmate on June 04, 2012, 05:36:50 am
I am DSc in Theology (attained 1947) and became atheist in 1986.
My only regret is that I did not become atheist before that, but on the other hand I understand better the utter bullshit that is organised religion with Christianity being the worst of all.
There are religions/philosophies out there that are worthy of the highest respect in that they are more focused on humanity, and not sacrificing oneself or family to please some imaginary non-entity.
At the moment, the RCC is embarking on a bitter campaign to destroy "aggressive" secularism whilst covering the tracks of their own bloody and corrupt history.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: rookie on June 04, 2012, 11:13:26 am
OK, let's see. After 8 years of Catholic school, I was about done with Catholicism. I went to a few other churches once I turned 16 and had a car. None really felt right. When I was 18, I enlisted. All I was allowed for reading material was army books and "religious texts" (here religious texts are supposed to be the bible, but they can't really say anything about the Koran (pre 9-11) or any others). So I read the bible cover to cover. Twice. (Mostly the second time was because I felt I had missed some things to tie everything together. If I did the first time, I must have the second time as well.) And then I started going on "company trips" and seeing the crap done in the name of personal deities, often the same deity. I pretty much faded into what Dawkins calls agnostic atheism.
The end.

Not terribly exciting, but there it is.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: VirtualStranger on June 04, 2012, 04:20:03 pm
I'm not fond of using the term "coming out" in the context of atheism because it feels like it's appropriating the struggle of a group that is far more heavily stigmatized and faces much more hardship than your own.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: RavynousHunter on June 04, 2012, 04:37:12 pm
I'm not fond of using the term "coming out" in the context of atheism because it feels like it's appropriating the struggle of a group that is far more heavily stigmatized and faces much more hardship than your own.
Umm...what?  Excuse me while I call bullshit.  You ever read the mainpage?  You've got people calling for the deaths of atheists just like they call for the deaths of LGBT folks.  Kids are ostracized, bullied, and beaten for lacking religion just like they would be for being homosexual.  Also, if I remember correctly, there was a study, somewhere, stating that, of all minority groups, atheists are the least trusted of them all.  We've got a struggle, too.  Its not greater than the LGBT struggle, but it is equal in importance and atheists face much the same torment that LGBT people do.  We're not "appropriating" their terms, we're sharing them, because our struggles are shared.  We can only fight bigotry if we fight it as a united front.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Saturn500 on June 04, 2012, 04:38:19 pm
I'm not fond of using the term "coming out" in the context of atheism because it feels like it's appropriating the struggle of a group that is far more heavily stigmatized and faces much more hardship than your own.
Umm...what?  Excuse me while I call bullshit.  You ever read the mainpage?  You've got people calling for the deaths of atheists just like they call for the deaths of LGBT folks.  Kids are ostracized, bullied, and beaten for lacking religion just like they would be for being homosexual.  Also, if I remember correctly, there was a study, somewhere, stating that, of all minority groups, atheists are the least trusted of them all.  We've got a struggle, too.  Its not greater than the LGBT struggle, but it is equal in importance and atheists face much the same torment that LGBT people do.

This.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Osama bin Bambi on June 04, 2012, 07:37:11 pm
I think it was in a car ride and my mom was talking on the phone to someone.

Mom: "Yeah, I'm a secular Jew, my husband's a lapsed Catholic, the boy's too young to decide, and I have no idea what my daughter is."

Me: "I'm an atheist."

Mom: "That's nice honey, but don't interrupt."

Now the only people who make fun of my atheism is my dad ("Where do you think you got your smarts from? God?") and my grandmother ("When I was your age I was an atheist too. You'll grow out of it.").
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Damen on June 04, 2012, 07:42:44 pm
I think it was in a car ride and my mom was talking on the phone to someone.

Mom: "Yeah, I'm a secular Jew, my husband's a lapsed Catholic, the boy's too young to decide, and I have no idea what my daughter is."

Me: "I'm an atheist."

Mom: "That's nice honey, but don't interrupt."

Now the only people who make fun of my atheism is my dad ("Where do you think you got your smarts from? God?") and my grandmother ("When I was your age I was an atheist too. You'll grow out of it.").

"Yeah, I'll probably get a screaming case of dementia just like you, granny." [/snarky asshole]
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Witchyjoshy on June 04, 2012, 07:48:53 pm
I'm not fond of using the term "coming out" in the context of atheism because it feels like it's appropriating the struggle of a group that is far more heavily stigmatized and faces much more hardship than your own.
Umm...what?  Excuse me while I call bullshit.  You ever read the mainpage?  You've got people calling for the deaths of atheists just like they call for the deaths of LGBT folks.  Kids are ostracized, bullied, and beaten for lacking religion just like they would be for being homosexual.  Also, if I remember correctly, there was a study, somewhere, stating that, of all minority groups, atheists are the least trusted of them all.  We've got a struggle, too.  Its not greater than the LGBT struggle, but it is equal in importance and atheists face much the same torment that LGBT people do.

This.

This.

I would even go so far as to say that atheism may face worse prejudice than lesbians, gays, and bisexuals do.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Distind on June 05, 2012, 06:27:03 am
This.

I would even go so far as to say that atheism may face worse prejudice than lesbians, gays, and bisexuals do.
It's all punishable by death in the wrong areas of the world, so worse is a hard thing to quantify.

My own story has very little to do with coming out, more personal realization. But when I did, my mother asked why and I started rattling off various things that bothered me. She pretty much nodded her head, agreed, and we do the odd coversation on religious topics to cover whatever bits are interesting ever since. No one else really cares, assuming they know.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Vypernight on June 05, 2012, 06:46:48 am
If the subject comes up, I often tell people I'm an atheist, only because it's quicker and easier than explaining what an agnostic Buddhist is (I'm lazy and sometimes, I don't feel like going into detail).  I justify it in that I don't believe in their close-minded, bigoted view of a god. 

I haven't faced any of this descrimination that people have spoken with, just sometimes shocked silence.

Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Nightangel8212 on June 08, 2012, 07:03:53 am
Well, I'm not atheist, I'm Pagan...

My mom and sister knew pretty early on, and after explaining to them what it is REALLY about (and not some bs where I'm sacrificing animals and drinking the blood of virgins) they were perfectly fine with it. I was scared of telling my dad because he's a pretty religious man and almost became a Catholic Priest when he was younger. My Aunt Elma came from Ontario one year and she's a Witch, so I brought my books to show her, knowing and bracing myself because I KNEW there was no way I could show them to her without my father seeing. He sauntered over from his hockey game while I was showing her the books and the conversation went something like this:

Dad (looking at the witchcraft books with a perplexed look on his face): What're these?

Me (taking a deep breath and bracing myself for the worst): Dad, these are my books.

(Dad picks up one or two books and looks at the backs of them.)

Dad (smiling and shaking his head): I always knew you were a little funny.

(Dad goes back to his hockey game)

We actually had a few confrontations about it, but that stopped for the most part when I explained to him that Paganism is not Atheism (which he thought it was) and that I believed in multiple deities. His response to that was "Well, as long as you  believe in SOMETHING".

Nowadays, all I get from my dad is the occasional "Just keep that door open" in the middle of a theological conversation.

As for my brother... yeah, he just recently became born-again, so I just avoid any religious topics with him period. He knows what I am, and he doesn't like it, but he's smart enough to keep his trap shut.

So, yeah... that's how I came out of my broom closet :P
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Zygarde on June 08, 2012, 03:13:30 pm
Like Nightangel im not an atheist im a pagan I came out when I was about maybe 13 and this was after I explored other religions after leaving christianity. Most of my family and friends are cool with it the only problems I get are from one of my bigoted uncles who is a bit of a racist and a homophobe so I don't talk to him much to begin with ,and my classmates who we're all raised on the very hateful form of Catholicism.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Witchyjoshy on June 08, 2012, 09:41:58 pm
My mother and I left a conservative church and, after taking a vacation from everything religious, started attending the local Episcopal church.

It was fantastic... and it also let us have the room to think.  During which, we started to explore paganism and eventually stopped believing in a literal Jesus and Bible.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that for most of our lives, we believed in a literal Jesus/Bible, it was impossible to keep that happy medium up, and so we fell out of Christianity, and later out of the Episcopal church.

We've been trying to find our paths ever since.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: czechmate on June 09, 2012, 04:19:40 am
I think it was in a car ride and my mom was talking on the phone to someone.

Mom: "Yeah, I'm a secular Jew, my husband's a lapsed Catholic, the boy's too young to decide, and I have no idea what my daughter is."

Me: "I'm an atheist."

Mom: "That's nice honey, but don't interrupt."

Now the only people who make fun of my atheism is my dad ("Where do you think you got your smarts from? God?") and my grandmother ("When I was your age I was an atheist too. You'll grow out of it.").
Kittens are automatically Christian - but become atheist when their eyes open.
My grandmother always told me "I always keep a large bible around the house in case I run out of toilet paper and firelighters. It also serves as a doorstop"
The Christian bible is the New Testament, so why are the fundies always quoting the Old Testament which is actually a major chunk of the Torah.
And for all you Islamophobes out there - Jesus is mentioned more times in the Koran than in the Christian bible. He is referred to as Inas and was revered by Mohammed. Also "Israel" and "Children of Israel" is scattered all over the Koran but heavily editted by the RCC.
Religion - Mans greatest experiment with the art of terminal bullshit.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Askold on June 09, 2012, 05:14:28 am
The Christian bible is the New Testament, so why are the fundies always quoting the Old Testament which is actually a major chunk of the Torah.

Well, actually the old testament is also a part of the christian bible* so I don't really get why you would claim that only the new testament is a part of it. Just because Torah and Quran have some of the same material it does not mean that the similar chunks aren't a part of the others as well.



*When I say christian bible I guess I have to clarify that there are several different versions of the bible (And no I'm not gonna start an argument about which "holy book" is the "one true version" this is a religious matter and all are equally valid.) but most include the old testament. It has been removed from the bible at least once because it was considered "too jewish" by the "german christians" in Nazi Germany. I do admit that there might be other christian groups that have gotten rid of the old testament but that's the one case I know of.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: QueenofHearts on June 09, 2012, 05:21:34 am
I feel like my "coming out" story is far too boring to be submitted. Raised Anglican, slowly expressed more and more skepticism about religion until I was finally just like, "Yeah, I'm an atheist, guys.", and never really faced much other than the standard, "But how can you handle believing that life is pointless?" crap, though my dad does still make some passive aggressive comments about it from time to time.

Kind of like this, though with being baptist. I've also never really "came out" to my parents about being agnostic (close enough) but they know that I'm not religious and that I view the Bible with as much seriousness as I do Dr. Seuss books. Though, that doesn't stop my parents (or grandparents for that matter) from taking jabs at my lack of faith. They'll often try to play those "gotcha" questions with me like

1. Where did we all come from?
2. If we evolved from monkeys, then why aren't monkeys evolving into humans today (so many flaws in this logic; natural selection, common ancestor=/=monkeys, confusing theory of evolution with evolution, and why would monkeys want to evolve into us they are already far more intelligent).
3. Saying I can't accept Christmas presents (they still give them, but they act like I'm being a hypocrite and conversely I feel the same about them as Christmas has really become more of a materialistic than a religious holiday and Jesus was very likely not even born in December).
4. Similarly they get weird about phrases with religious connotations as though such phrases can't convey a secular message. A few years ago I told my parents and grandparents at Easter supper that I "was praying to get accepted into college" and they took that as literally "praying" missing the context that it just means I really want it. Phrases like "Jesus Christ!" or "For the love of God" also are rebuked with a "you don't believe in Jesus/God, so therefore you can't say that." I've always wanted to tell them "no I can say that because I don't believe in the Bible, you can't as per the 10 commandments."

Anyways, in a less convoluted way, I've never came out as atheist/agnostic but they know and still like to belittle my lack of faith.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Eniliad on June 09, 2012, 08:44:49 pm
Speaking of gotcha questions, Queen, how's this one:

"Why do we have to accept that everything in the universe had to come from something - but that God himself didn't have to?"

Seriously, it violates their own "logic".
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: czechmate on June 10, 2012, 06:23:52 am
The Christian bible is the New Testament, so why are the fundies always quoting the Old Testament which is actually a major chunk of the Torah.

Well, actually the old testament is also a part of the christian bible* so I don't really get why you would claim that only the new testament is a part of it. Just because Torah and Quran have some of the same material it does not mean that the similar chunks aren't a part of the others as well.



*When I say christian bible I guess I have to clarify that there are several different versions of the bible (And no I'm not gonna start an argument about which "holy book" is the "one true version" this is a religious matter and all are equally valid.) but most include the old testament. It has been removed from the bible at least once because it was considered "too jewish" by the "german christians" in Nazi Germany. I do admit that there might be other christian groups that have gotten rid of the old testament but that's the one case I know of.
What I'm saying is the NT are books supplemental to the Torah. When the Christian "scholars" hacked together the Bible in 325 AD, many books were omitted for various reasons (mostly out of ignorance and greed).
Since then, the Bible was been continuously hacked to suit the agenda of various splinter groups, each and every one of them being the "one true" and, with few exceptions, had a negative effect upon humanity.
As a whole, over 1.2 milliard (billion) lives have been lost since 325 AD, due to the "conversion" of societies to Christianity. To put it another way, that is equivalent to 1630 unnecessary deaths per day from 325 AD to the present day.
That is 50 times worse than any pandemic suffered by mankind.
Religion is supposed to be the greatest uniter?
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Jedi Knight on June 10, 2012, 07:45:23 am
We've been trying to find our paths ever since.


You know, I used to be there after I lost the faith I had as a child. This is going to sound very zen, but I didn't find my "path" until I stopped looking. It occured to me that I didn't need a path. I'm comfortable not believing.

As for coming out, that's not really an issue, not here in Norway. I suppose it's more or less the default position among (and I loathe this term) ethnic Norwegians anyway.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Witchyjoshy on June 10, 2012, 01:39:30 pm
We've been trying to find our paths ever since.

You know, I used to be there after I lost the faith I had as a child. This is going to sound very zen, but I didn't find my "path" until I stopped looking. It occured to me that I didn't need a path. I'm comfortable not believing.

I tried that.  Simply not believing.

...I hate to say it, but it isn't for me.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Saturn500 on June 10, 2012, 03:41:40 pm
Speaking of gotcha questions, Queen, how's this one:

"Why do we have to accept that everything in the universe had to come from something - but that God himself didn't have to?"

Seriously, it violates their own "logic".

Maybe God created Himself through a Stable Time Loop.
Title: Re: Coming out Atheist
Post by: Eniliad on June 11, 2012, 11:58:53 am
My own atheist story is more boring than my coming out gay story. By this point, most of the immediate family had lost its faith (Exception: My middle sister is Christian but very tolerant) so it was a shock to nobody. Only my grandma seemed disappointed, and even then it's not like she won't speak to me or anything; she does get a bit preachy now and again though. Other than that... meh.