When Coming Out as an Atheist Goes Bad March 2, 2009

When Coming Out as an Atheist Goes Bad

Reader AnonyMouse wrote a personal story about coming out to the family as an atheist — unfortunately, it didn’t go nearly as well as he had hoped. Maybe his insights can help others in his shoes.

And the note to parents at the end is a must-read:

I tried “coming out” to my family once. ONCE. It was about two weeks after I lost my faith (the worst two weeks of my life, incidentally), and it was a complete disaster.

Let me explain. My parents attend a fundamentalist church, and while they do not hold completely fundamentalist beliefs themselves, there is one thing that they hold: YOU. DO. NOT. QUESTION. GOD. You can question the Bible a little bit, but only to the degree that it reinforces your faith. Losing your faith is not an option. If you — like me — find some way to disprove Christianity using the Bible, it is only because a demon has shown you what to look for. On the off chance that you do stumble upon something entirely by accident, the reason it looks like it contradicts the Bible is because God has not given you the wisdom to understand it.

The three days in which my parents knew… it was as though everything I had gone through the past two weeks had been compressed into a single weekend. They proselytized. They threatened me with Hellfire. They tried to guilt me into reconverting with tears and much wailing. It wasn’t until Sunday evening, when all of the emotional stress finally built to a head, that we were able to resolve the issue — and I was able to decide once and for all where I stood.

Unfortunately, it landed me on the “wrong” side of the fence.

I am in ways grateful for the event. It allowed me to break down the web of confusion and self-deceit that I had lain out in my mind as a child. It allowed me to look at both the Bible and our religion as what they were, rather than what I had been raised to want them to be. It allowed me to find much more satisfaction in life on the whole. By removing the smothering shroud of an omnipresent God, I also cast away the self-loathing complex that was vital to our belief system.

But my parents know none of this. They think that I have returned to Christianity, and that is how it has to stay. If they learned that I had not returned to The Path, there would be weeping and wailing and Bible-Thumping and threats of damnation and accusations of consorting with demons and… well, you know how Christians will accuse you of “never being a real Christian” when you tell them you lost their faith? My parents covered that, but it was nothing compared to the other things they said to me. They were planning on throwing both me and my sister out of the house, knowing fully well that we would have no place to go.

In so many ways, my parents are wonderful and loving people. And I love them dearly. But atheism is one subject that I will never be able to broach. Based on what happened the last time, I am certain that they would never forgive me and probably spend the rest of their lives beating themselves up over their “failure” as parents.

At this point, I would like to say something important to any religious parents who might be reading this: Please do not dwell on your children’s beliefs. It may seem inconceivable to you that they could possibly reject your religion, and your first instinct will be anger and pain. But please, put this aside. Instead, I ask you to take a look at the good things about your children. They are probably kind, wonderful, and intelligent people. And I have very little doubt that they love you very much, despite your differences in belief.

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  • David D.G.

    Emotional blackmail stinks.

    My sincere sympathies, AnonyMouse, for your having been forced into the position of having to choose between honesty to your parents and … well, life. I cannot say I blame you for the choice you’ve made, but I hope you are able to get free of those “loving” parental shackles ASAP.

    ~David D.G.

  • Ubi Dubium

    I think this reinforces for me a piece of advice I often give. For many deconverts, losing faith is not an overnight process, it takes time, maybe months or years of struggling with belief snd coming to terms with its loss. Don’t expect your loved ones to cope with the sudden bombshell of your announcement of atheism, especially if they are fundamentalist. It’s likely to take them as long or longer than it took you. I’ve read many personal accounts of sudden announcements, and they usually go very badly. Take it slow, spill the beans a little bit at a time. Let them get used to the idea that you have questions, or that you need to look for answers outside the church setting. By the time you finally disclose that you have left faith behind, they will have had the chance to see that you are still the same decent person you always were, and that your love for them has not changed.

  • AnonyMouse,

    I am shocked and appalled at your parents’ behavior, though I should not be. After all, I have been reading through John Marks’ “Reasons to Believe,” and the picture it paints of American fundamentalism is not at all pleasing. I find it amazing that you can still love them, even though their so-called “love” for you vanished when you needed it most.

    I don’t know how long ago this was, or if you’re still with them, but either way… get out of there. ASAP. You don’t deserve to be religiously abused.

  • Gabriel

    That is awful. But you are not alone. You are not the only atheist. One day you will be able to support yourself and then you will not need to hide your true self. Hold onto that thought. Study hard. Go far away for college and get a degree in a field that has jobs and you can support yourself with. Accounting is a good one. Then you will have control of your life and will be able to help your sister. Good luck and keep your head down.

  • You mentioned they threatened to “throw you out of the house.”

    I assume that means you still live(d) with them at the time. This brings me to probably the best advice I could give to others who may be in your situation (i.e., living with fundamentalist parents who are likely to go ape shit when they find out you’re a heathen): Don’t come out, until you’ve moved out, are self sufficient, and no longer “need” them. Otherwise, you wind up in the situation described in the original post – hiding your true convictions for the sake of “peace,” not to mention food and shelter. This is especially important for any teens out there who might be thinking of de-converting.

    My heart really goes out to Mr/Ms AnonyMouse.

  • Polly

    Do you think they really believe that you “changed your mind”? No offense, but they’d have to be pretty gullible to think that. I think they’re satisfied that they’ve bullied you back into submission.

    I don’t blame you one bit.

    …and probably spend the rest of their lives beating themselves up over their “failure” as parents.

    I went through a similar concern with my parents. Only my issue was that I didn’t want my mother to worry about my eternal soul. But, then I realized you’ve got to place responsibility where it belongs. I’ve said this on another board and I’ll say it here. People who believe hateful, stupid things, should by all means be confronted with the agony of those beliefs in FULL FORCE. If it makes them miserable, then they NEED to feel that. People should not be left to feel comfortable about other people’s children burning in Hell.

    Don’t shield them from the consequences of their own dogma, forever. When you get your independence, let ’em have it. It’ll be good for you and them.

  • Forkboy

    AnonyMouse’s parents don’t sound like Christians to me. At least not the sort I would equate with being familiar with the teachings and words of Jesus.

    How is it Jesus could hang-out with the tax collector, the whore, the leper, etc., but your parents would cast you to the winds for your lack of faith/belief?

    Do yourself a big favour and recognize that they are assholes. Now. And forever more. You will never find an enjoyable moment with them ever again. You will forever understand that their love for you comes with a price and is not unconditional as it should be.

    Dump ’em and never look back. It is the only way you will be happy.

  • Tom

    As a gay person, I have more than a passing familiarity with the “coming out” process, and despite coming out as gay being a different subject than coming out as an atheist, the process is much the same, as are the reactions.

    AnonyMouse, if you’re reading this, I’d like to offer you some thoughts.

    As a gay adult who really makes no secret about it, I’m sometimes contacted by young gay people about how they should come out to their parents. I have a simple answer for them: don’t. Wait till you’re independent. This applies to atheism as much as to sexuality. The day will come when you have your own home, your own job, and your own friends. It’ll be a while, but it’ll happen. And then you can tell your parents you’re an atheist.

    Now, you may be thinking, “But Tom, you’re missing the point, I just said it’s not worth the fight.” For now, that’s true. But it’ll change. You’re going to find that over time, it’s going to become the wedge between you and your parents. You’re going to have friends who don’t give a damn about church, who you can’t introduce to your parents. You’ll be dating someone who is an atheist, who won’t be interested in pretending for your parents. You’ll get married, and your spouse won’t want a church wedding, and you won’t be able to explain that to your parents. You’ll have kids, and not want to bring them up with church guilt, and you won’t be able to explain that to your parents.

    You’ll find, in short, that if you don’t tell them someday, you’ll have to cut them out of your life to hide your atheism, so you’ll have lost them just as truly as if you’d told them and they’d failed to cope. Even if you managed to deceive them, you’ll have to contort your whole life around their religious zealotry, it will make you miserable, and in the end you’ll be forced to face the fact that they don’t love you, they love the person you pretend to be.

    So when the time comes that you’re standing on your own two feet and have your own home and financial and social support to deal with their bad reaction, tell them. Yes, there will be much weeping and wailing and recriminations. Yes, they’ll do everything they can to make you miserable if you don’t go back to church with them. But this time, you must dump the whole problem on them, and be prepared to walk out and let them stew until they’re prepared to deal with you in a civilized matter.

    To be blunt, it *is* their problem. And they are *not* nice people if they would threaten to throw you AND your sister out of the house over your religious beliefs (or lack thereof). Decent people do not make their own children go homeless over such relatively trivial issues. They *have* failed as parents; not because you are an atheist, but because they have prioritized their imaginary magical sky fairy over their own very real children.

    So when the time comes, you must tell them, calmly and unequivocally, that you are an atheist, and take no nonsense about it. If they can’t behave like grown adults from a civilized world and speak with you about it calmly, leave. Tell them they can call you when they’re prepared to behave like civilized adults. If they call to try to pressure you about it, tell them politely that you’ll be happy to discuss any other topic, and if they press, hang up. Eventually they’ll get the understanding that if they want to have a relationship with their child, they will have to prioritize their children over their magical sky fairy. (Not that they have to stop believing, but they have to stop trying to force you to as a condition of their acceptance.) And if they can’t do that, you’ll be happier without them. You may not believe that now, but by the time you’re ready to tell them, you will.

    (But do them one kindness: when the day comes that you’re ready to tell them, don’t do it on or near a holiday. Go visit them at some random time of year to tell them. That way they won’t have to feel you’ve ruined their holiday, or associate the inevitable unpleasantness of the ensuing argument with the holiday.)

  • In so many ways, my parents are wonderful and loving people.

    But only on their terms. They need to accept that you are a person in your own right capable of making decisions that profoundly effect the way you live your life. You shouldn’t have to lie to them about your beliefs for an easy life. You should expect them to respect your right to choose for yourself and to make mistakes (in their view) in any decision that you make.

    If my kids told me that they had suddenly converted to believing in gods then I’d certainly be concerned. I’d want to know if they were joking, if they were sane, if they had been influenced by anyone, etc. Once I’d eliminated their beliefs as being anyone’s “fault” then I’d have to accept them. The alternative is to lose them and that isn’t an alternative that I find attractive at all.

  • oops, my computer messed up and somehow submitted twice. My apologies. See actual comment below and feel free to delete this one. (I would myself if there was the option.)

  • oh, there was weeping and gnashing of teeth when I just went for a more liberal brand of Christianity. My mother cried once and told me all she ever wanted for me was for me to love Jesus (“the way she did” was the unspoken finish to that sentence). In fact, my parents have not spoken to me about anything religious since then, so I have not told them about my atheism (I am quite sure someone else has). There is no way I could possibly keep up the facade of pretending to be the kind of Christian that would make them happy or feel successful. I would have had to plaster smiles on my face, stay in my abusive marriage, and attend Bill Gothard seminars with glee.

  • mkb

    I am sorry for the pain you must be feeling. It is so great that people today can turn to the internet to find support when they don’t find it at home.

    I totally understand your position for now but I hope that if you ever consider having children that you will work this out with your parents first. You don’t want your parents to say hateful things in front of your kids. You don’t want to lie to your parents about your beliefs in front of your kids. And you shouldn’t keep your beliefs from your children. Thus, the only answer is to get your parents to accept you as you are before you bring children into the relationship or to cut your parents out of the life you share with your children. But, by all means, wait to start the process until you are independent.

  • AnonyMouse

    I have to say, I really appreciate all the comments people have left. They’ve been very helpful and it’s nice to know that I’m not alone.

    I thought I should mention that my first “coming out” was not intentional. Somehow or another, my parents had gotten into an argument with my sister over the matter, and I ended up getting involved, and that’s how they learned about it. Scary thing was, I wasn’t even what I would consider an atheist at that point – I was only certain that Jesus and God were not who they’d been made out to be.

    I would also like to mention that while I agree that I need to get away from home as soon as possible (it’s been five months since that time and I haven’t managed it yet), it really doesn’t help me for you to tell me that my parents are assholes. They really aren’t. Aside from this single thorny problem, they’re actually decent people (not perfect, but that’s to be expected). But they do have this sort of “control” complex that rears its ugly head now and again, and I’m pretty sure it’s because of the brainwashing they were put through as children and young adults.

    I will consider telling them once I’m out of the house and independent, but with as strong memories of the last event as I have I absolutely dread the emotional recoil.

  • TC

    What’s good for one family isn’t necessarily good for another.

    My family situation is odd. My parents are divorced. My Mom’s side of the family are what I call Creasters. They’re Methodist and believe in God for the holidays but that’s about it. Not one of them has attended bible study in my lifetime, and not one of them has ever read their supposed holy book. A few make it to church a couple of Sundays a month, but many don’t do that. Most have never thought seriously about their beliefs. My Mother claims that there’s no difference between denominations of Protestants, for example.

    My Dad’s side of the family is Southern Baptist (and other, more extreme denominations). These people live, breathe, eat, and crap God. I have several aunts and uncles who attend something church-related more days of the week than not. My Dad, for example, is a young-earth creationist, and believes the bible is literally true in every word. These folks routinely do bible study and they have really, really read their bibles. Multiple times. Some of them have read multiple versions of the bible.

    Guess which family is was a bunch of flaming, hemorrhoid-covered assholes when I came out? Go on, guess.

    Mom’s side, the Creasters were (and are) total dicks about it. I’m going to hell for not believing, and I’m a bad person with no morals to boot. After several contentious discussions, we have an unspoken agreement to simply leave the God issue unspoken forevermore. Those several discussions damaged relationships for years. Not talking about it is the only way to continue to have a decent relationship with these folks.

    Dad’s side of the family can – and does – have intelligent conversations about religion, philosophy, and what it means to be a good person absent any faith. They try to convert me in the process of talking about it, of course, but the conversation is always, always, always civil and decent, and they respect me as a human being at the end of it. I have never once felt unwelcome as a result of discussing religion with these folks. Never.

    For some families, the issue-which-shall-not-be-named is politics. For others, it’s religion.

    Ultimately, if a relationship with family members is important, atheists can (and should) be able to ignore the religion issue for the sake of the relationship – much as we can ignore political differences with family members for the sake of the relationship. The only reason to not do so is when the relationship itself is toxic to one’s own well-being.

  • Geoff

    TC, this behaviour doesn’t surprise me as I was brought up in a family of largely ‘social’ Methodists and have since come across various types of fundie.
    It seems to me that many people who embrace the most extreme sects do so because they were indoctrinated as children. An otherwise intelligent Catholic or YEC fundie can’t help bouts of rationalism which bring on huge guilt trips. They do tend to band together at these times to support each other back to irrationality.

  • SarahH

    Do you think they really believe that you “changed your mind”? No offense, but they’d have to be pretty gullible to think that.

    It’s about what they want to believe, rather than what their rationality tells them. If you want to believe something strongly enough, the denial can be pretty powerful.

    AnonyMouse: I hope you can eventually find a balance between being truthful with your family and not inciting rage/pain. Living in separate homes makes an enormous difference. I’m so sorry they reacted so badly. *hugs*

  • AnonyMouse, if you and your sister need someplace to go, I’m sure that I could help you find safe haven.

    I waited until I got married to tell my parents (everyone else in my life knew). I eloped, so my parents weren’t at my wedding. That drove home to them that if they were going to hold me to their beliefs, they weren’t going to be part of major events in my life.

  • Steven

    Anonymouse’s account of a disasterous “coming out” as an atheist and similar posts make me feel a bit better about not mentioning my atheism to my family. My wife, co-workers, even my mother-in-law are aware of my disbelief (the friendly atheist wristband at my workstation is a bit of a giveaway). It’s even pretty likely that my father is an agnostic but I’ve never breathed a word to my mother or sister. They’re not bible-thumpers but they are sincere in their belief and would be upset that I don’t share it.
    I wouldn’t lie to them but they’ve never asked about my beliefs or lack thereof – they just assume. It does get a little awkward when my mom asks when we’re going to baptize her grandchildren but I just cite the expense or say “we’re not into that”. It helps that my wife leans towards agosticism even though she finds my atheism “overly cynical”.
    I was a little surprised by some of the harsh judgements made against Anonymouse’s parents. Their behaviour at that time was unacceptable but that doesn’t make them bad people. This seems to be another example of how beliefs can warp behaviour and “good intentions” lead to a poor outcome. One thing is clear – the best time to disagree with some parents is when they’re not paying for your house, food, clothes, tuition, etc. Sadly enough, in some cases freedom = $$.

  • Jason R

    Its a built in safety net. My mom and dad taught me that the best person to use the bible verses for their own purposes was the DEVIL!!!

    The devil takes bible verses out of context and twist them to his own evil ways!

  • AnonyMouse

    Jason R – Totally agreeing with you about the “safety net” thing. It’s like saying to someone “if you fall down the stairs, and you get a bruise, the Devil gave you that bruise.”

    Pfft. Christians take Bible verses out of context and twist them to their own ways. Maybe the Devil’s the only one who can see the Bible for what it actually says.

  • bM

    It does sounds harsh to label these people “Bad” – maybe they aren’t bad people.

    However, I can’t help but think that they are being *bad parents*. Pretty much any parent who threatens to throw their dependent child out is a bad parent in my mind . Even if they don’t really mean it, that’s a HUGE breach of trust. It pretty much confirms any fear a child may have of being loved only conditionally, making the fear/possibility of being abandoned all the more real.

    Also, before someone mentions it – I’m sure they are some extreme situations that are exceptions, but I think these are quite rare and inapplicable to this instance in any case.

  • Forkboy

    I’m sorry if my use of the term “assholes” doesn’t fit with your view of your otherwise loving parents. But I fail to see how any parent can be described as “loving” when they place their devotion to a god over the care of their own children.

    I think Tom summed up this entire mess very well. And his point about your future (and that of your spouse and possible children) is equally well thought out. Can you imagine how your otherwise loving parents would react to your children if you opted to bring them up as non-believers? Trust me…having been involved in something very similar the answer is that they will not have anything to do with your god-less children.

    No one wants to think ill of their parents, but asshole-like behaviour deserves the term.

  • Tom nailed it. Independence is the key. I actually haven’t officially “come out” to my mother yet, although if she ever got online it wouldn’t take her long to figure it out. Mostly I’m just lazy and don’t feel like dealing with the inevitable tears and wailing and gnashing of teeth, every time I see her. I haven’t lied about it, we just don’t mention religion. It’s enough that my kids can go visit Oma every so often and have a good time.

    Unfortunately, being who I am, if she ever confronted me, I’d have to tell the truth. Then the fun would begin…

  • Tom

    Anonymouse, being “otherwise loving” isn’t good enough for a parent. My mother tried to run me over with her car twice and ran me out of the house with a gun once, but was otherwise very loving. That doesn’t excuse her behavior.

    It’s okay for a parent to get angry, but their are certain lines it’s not acceptable for them to cross. Threatening to throw out their dependent children for any reason short of the kid being violently deranged is one of them. Your parents may be doing what they think is right, but clearly what they think is right is so severely at odds with reality or conventional morals that I can only view them as bad parents. Perhaps unintentionally bad parents, but bad nonetheless.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t love them for their positive points, or that you shouldn’t want to have a good relationship with them in the future. Indeed, everything I suggested to you – getting your own home, becoming financially and socially independent, telling them you’re an atheist, and then forcing them to deal with it in a civilized manner – is intended to facilitate that. The point is to make them confront reality and then give them opportunities to do the right thing; the right thing being to accept you for who you are, not for who they wish you were. They need you to teach them how to be the kind of parents they should be. There’s no guarantee they’re willing to be taught, or that you’ll succeed. But it’s pretty obvious that there aren’t any good alternatives.

  • Polly

    Threatening to throw out their dependent children for any reason short of the kid being violently deranged is one of them.

    I know a man whose son really was physically and verbally abusive and yet he still refused to kick him out of the house even though he is a full-fledged adult and has been for more than a decade. The son even got a job (FINALLY) that provides him with an income he can live on, but he still doesn’t throw the young man out!

    And yet simple unbelief, whch harms no one, gets a severe response.

  • Jeffersonish

    ansuzmannaz Says… “I find it amazing that you can still love them, even though their so-called “love” for you vanished when you needed it most.”

    I went through something similar in my life where I “should have” been angry with my mom for the way she basically abandoned me in favor of staying with an abusive alcoholic 3rd husband. The problem with that is, I am an empathetic person and I am smart enough to see she loved me, rationalized her fears and selfishness, and was as much a victim if not more so than me.

    I will say to Anonymouse that you should start finding ways to socialize, even if only online at first, with other non-believers. You will gain psychological comfort from being able to freely express yourself in their company and when you can financially support yourself, it will help direct your life as an adult in a direction that you can be proud of instead of living a lie. You don’t have to quit loving your parents, but after you’ve told them the truth (again) it is up to them what they will do with it.

    On a side note, at the age of about 42 I told my mom I was an atheist. I actually thought she already knew because I didn’t think I was hiding it. She looked a little shocked and asked, “But you still believe in God, right?” LOL – She had an 8th grade education and took her cues from the culture around her. I was thankful she was anti-religious even though in her mind she believed in God, Jesus and the Bible.

    I hope all that helps.

  • Chelsea

    Forkboy, you wondered:

    How is it Jesus could hang-out with the tax collector, the whore, the leper, etc., but your parents would cast you to the winds for your lack of faith/belief?

    Easy! Jesus goes around telling people to abandon their families all the time in order to pursue god! People seem to have this idea that the New Testament is all about family values, when it’s not.

    On a related note, I started thinking about when we say “Well that’s not very Christian of them,” when Christians do hateful things like this. Often times, when Christians do things that surprise us, those actions are very “Christian-like” things to do, i.e. hate gay people, kick their kids out, etc. Don’t believe anyone who says that Christianity is all about love and peace.

  • postsimian

    I hate to tell you this, but your parents sound very fundamentalist. Anyway, do what you need to do to get by. When you’re out of the house and able to pay your bills, let ’em know. Personally, I think threatening to essentially disown you says a lot about the type of people they are, from a non-involved standpoint.

  • Julie Marie

    Hi AnonyMouse,

    That is tough stuff. I’m sad for you and for your parents, and your sister. In my life I’ve found deep wounds can be somewhat healed by learning to work in the grey areas of life. But I’ve also found that to survive working in the grey areas you have to be able to maintain strong, healthy boundaries. Many fundies don’t do that well. I know I didn’t. It wasn’t just my former beliefs, but the way I was raised ~ to do what I was told, to the best of my ability. I didn’t learn about appropriate boundaries until I realized I had to protect my son. Its amazing the crap I took without thinking twice, but man alive, when the crap started to be directed to my son – the unhealthy situation became clear very quickly. Its taken me 4 years, and I certainly spent a bit of time over-reacting, using sledgehammers to drive home my points – but I can now calmly draw and enforce healthy boundaries. Some people I have had to release from my life permanently, others I’ve been able to re-build with. My life is better now in every way – but I will not tolerate dishonesty or controlling behavior in any relationship.

    I hope your parents can grow in their ability to deal with your life choices, even if those choices contradict their beliefs. I agree with the above posters when they say keep the facade until you are independent. How they chose to react is not okay, it is extremely controlling. I also agree with the above poster who suggests there may come a time when the facade outlives its usefulness. You’ll deal with it again, I imagine – but you’ll be better prepared next time. I wish you well, my heart goes out to you.

  • Anonymous

    Has revealing your atheism to non-atheists ever had overwhelmingly positive results? (Not just mildly positive ones, as that wouldn’t be worth the risk, I’d think.)

    Surely there are stories with different consequences, no, somewhere on the “internets”? If not, then the Out Campaign probably won’t do much more than produce a bunch of unnecessary atheist casualties. Does the Dawkins site have a page of “out testimonials” or anything?

    I’m all for atheist camradarie but telling non-atheists what I think is a hard pill to swallow. It’s like asking me to walk a tightrope and just cross my fingers that I don’t fall. If I do fall, who will catch me? Nobody, that’s who.

  • Susie!!!

    They had no rights whatsoever to do that, you are your own person,and once more they have no control over your body, when I told my parents, I got yelled at by my mom, and my dad was fine with it.

    You should have told them “I thought the bible says the HE loves everyone, he created everyone, if you throw out me (and your sister?) you are horrible people, I love you guys, but to say, to do, something like that….dispicable……and knowing we would have no place to go….”

    I think you should try and reason with them still, it’s not right to live under the impression that their sweet child is athiest…..

    Here’s something you should ask them, no one has ever been able to answer to me……

    Ask: How am I wrong, give me 10 reasons in the next 15 minutes telling me how I’m wrong and explaining why I am wrong…Is something this small enough to make you no longer love me, to actually cast me out because you are supposedly ’embarrased’

  • grneyedmonster

    This is where you tell your parents that they are legally obligated to support you until you reach the age of majority.

    I agree with Tom’s terrific advice, though. Well said! The key is to react calmly to anything they say. It helps to brainstorm your parents’ possible responses to your atheism, and now you have a pretty good idea of what the responses will be, so it’ll be easier to formulate a counter-argument.

    In my experience, people often do not see the little clues that would lead them to the truth. That is especially true of close family members. My husband and I were married in a ceremony completely devoid of religion that was officiated by a very “butch” woman, and his family knew that I was “not religious,” but they had no clue that my hubby is an atheist, until recently, when he told his family outright. I have been an open atheist for years and some of my family didn’t realize it either. People see what they want to see.

    Parents are people, too, and they aren’t perfect, so give them another chance to digest it, when you are ready. If your parents really love you, they will accept you as you are, even if you are not as they want you to be.

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