Does Your Family Read Your Blog? October 29, 2009

Does Your Family Read Your Blog?

True story: Last weekend, I was showing my dad a couple of the articles about the ChicagoCor Atheist Billboard.

His reaction was, “Do you realize your name is now associated with atheism?!”


My family knows about this website and my activism, but they don’t read it and we rarely talk about it.

I can’t imagine trying to keep everything I do a secret from them, though, because it takes up so much of my life outside of work.

Jeremy runs a blog called Le Café Witteveen and has kept his atheism relatively under wraps from his family. Some of them know about his lack of religious beliefs, but they certainly don’t talk about it.

But that’s probably going to change. Jeremy just found out that family members have been lurking on his site for months now, reading it without his knowledge, aware of his beliefs without him ever having come out to them.

But maybe that’s a good thing. He’s out now. He can be completely open and honest when talking about faith without needing to hide it from anyone:

… So the conundrum is how to keep this a place of expressing, without self editing, how I view the world and keep the idea in tact that I “love the sinner and hate the sin” per se.

I loathe “hate sin love sinner” It’s a ruthless lie in church vernacular. The main sins this statement addresses are sexual sins, namely homosexuality. You never hear someone say, “Hate the lies love the liar” or “hate the work done on sabbath but love the worker”. It’s hands-down the most insincere level of dishonest judgement that a person of any background can make.

How do I make this statement pertain to me. Do I say, “I love the religious person but hate the religion they follow”? Because that’s intolerant and haughty (but it’s a certainly true feeling, eek).

Is there really no way to pursue the topics I might like to pursue without making people feel ehrm … poopy?

I’m sure he’ll find a way to do it respectfully. You can criticize their beliefs even without directly criticizing them.

And maybe reading about his experience will encourage other hidden or anonymous bloggers to come out to their loved ones.

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  • Luckily, my family are mostly computer illiterate or at least not “wired” as I am. The few who are online, probably wouldn’t have any problems finding me or my blog, but I doubt they look.

    I do use a different email address for all blog-related correspondence, but my username is the same all over the ‘net.

    My in-laws are all born-again Christians. Part of me wishes they read my blog, but if they did I’d be deprived of a lot of good material, since my sister-in-law send me all kinds of “alerts” relating to perceived persecution of Christians.

  • My half-brother and his long time girlfriend do, but they’re both agnostic/atheist so they think it’s great. I’m fairly certain my parents don’t read it, or if they do, they don’t mention it.

  • Some of my family members know and read my blog, but they also know me to be a very outspoken individual. None of them would find anything in my blog surprising. I can’t imagine editing myself, especially for my family. Even though we have completely different views on the world, (My mother is a Jehovah’s Witness) if I have to hide things from my family I wouldn’t really feel like they were family.
    Anyway, thats how I feel. 🙂

  • My personal blog (linked in my name) is full of atheist, gay, political stuff.

    My work Web site is not so much because I cater to a group made up of people from many religious traditions and I would likely lose many customers if I were as blatantly atheist on my work blog as I am on my personal blog. Funny, though, several customers chose to buy from me only AFTER they realized I was gay and/or atheist, and not some religious person pandering to that portion of society.

  • My mother, aunt, and paternal grandmother all read my blog. My aunt is alright, but my mother and grandmother are Super-Christian. It’s led to quite a bit of self-editing on my part… I even had to go in and put some of my posts back to private so they wouldn’t learn about tattoos and the like.

  • This piece made me very happy that I’ve always been “out” to my family, from my early days of questioning their religion to my current proudly atheist position. I have no idea how to hide anything from them, I’m just too obnoxiously opinionated.

    Frankly, just like with all prejudice, the best way to turn people around on anything is to make sure they know they know and even love someone who fits that label. It may be hard, it may require some time of distance if they are completely judgmental about it, and it may hurt everyone for awhile, but in the end it’s always better to be honest about who you are.

    It’s like coming out as gay or going ahead and marrying someone your family doesn’t approve of. The vast majority of the time they get over it and accept you and your choices, even if they never truly approve. If they don’t, you are actually better off without them even if it’s painful.

    To paraphrase Dan Savage: As an adult the greatest power you have over your family is your ability to not be part of their lives if they refuse to accept who you are.

  • I have a religious blog and a personal blog, though I do crossover posts sometimes. My personal blog is almost like a private diary because I get about 2 hits a day. LOL!

    My religious blog (linked above in my name) gets WAY more traffic… and gets updated a lot more frequently. 😉

    Most of my family doesn’t read either blog, but it would be fine if they did.

  • I’ve followed Jeremy’s saga quite closely and I admire him so much for going forward with his blog. I don’t know how I’d handle it; my blog has no link to my real identity whatsoever. It’s not that I’m afraid of people knowing who I am (many of my readers are Facebook friends and know who I am), I’m just not ready to address these issues with certain family members.

    Jeremy has handled this with an open calmness and clarity that I don’t know if I could ever arrive at myself. And his desire to continue without self-editing is truly admirable.

    I’m glad I could help contribute even just a little bit with my comments here and there. I’d like his family to know that we’re not a bunch of evil atheists running rampant.

  • Microbiologychick

    I was outed as a direct result of online activities and my family found my blog. It was extremely distressing to them, especially since they have no reading comprehension and misinterpret everything I said. The fact that they now knew about the blog was a large part of the reason I stopped blogging.

  • pete

    “How do I make this statement pertain to me. Do I say, “I love the religious person but hate the religion they follow”? Because that’s intolerant and haughty (but it’s a certainly true feeling, eek).”

    But its only intolerant and haughty if they dont like it themselves, though isnt it?.Because even if they do secretly quietly happen to dislike it a little,the best that can be hoped for is that they will honestly feel the same as you do in return in a graceful manner.Hopefully they love the atheist person,but hate the atheism they follow.And then that really is folks being (tolerant) of each other.

    If they dont react that way then thats intolerance on their part.”Non belief” surely must to be the “middle ground”,from that point there is choice “of religion” or choice of “no religion”.

    My opinion is religion over the years has wrongfully imposed and claimed faith as being the middle ground where supposedly all peoples lives begin from,and so then quite naturally they tend to think those that then move away from faith have then gone against them by moving away.Which is just their mistake.

    Its not such a problem for me,im a agnostic/atheist so most of my family will have nothing to do with me anyway and many christian friends dislike me for my non belief also l.o.l

    However i try to still stay feeling nuetral still as much as i can but its jolly hard work at times.Those christians that can show some true honesty in tolerance also on middle ground to me, is what helps me keep from anger.

  • I have actively hidden my blog from my family (including my wife). A few friends know about it because they follow me on Twitter. I feel that I would self-censor if I knew certain people were reading it. I try very hard to keep my internet persona completely separate from my IRL persona.

    Then again, my full name is at the bottom of my blog so it’s not a complete secret if someone googled hard enough.

  • My family has always known about my website. At times, this is freeing. At other times, it’s stifling. I actually started a new blog a few weeks ago, thinking that I needed to move. Eventually, I came to my senses.

  • My parents don’t read my blog that I am aware of. They have hinted that they know about my atheism but have never said anything directly and I have never brought it up.

  • James

    After I “came out” about my atheism on my blog, I received a five page letter from my father (like the grandma letter posted previously) mentioning he had been told by friends what I’ve been “saying on the internets.”

  • Concerning sin. Everybody (religious and non-religious alike) should just consider the term “sin” to mean “missing the mark” on what the bible says. For the non-religious who think the bible is merely a collection of social attitudes prevalent at the time the bible was written, who cares if you now “sin”. For the religious that think everybody is a sinner then what does it really matter if someone sins a bit more. We need to stop associating “sin” with something bad.

    I’ve been “out” with my wife as of our first date. She was a bit concerned when she first saw me working on my blog but only because she was worried about what other people would think. My blog is my own project and I don’t think she reads it at all. My kids are still a bit too young to be involved in such things.

  • Christy C.

    My husband and parents and aunts read my blog. And a few close friends, and that’s about it (I think – I’ve never tracked views). My family is a lot different from me politically and spiritually. They read it because they enjoy it, even when I’m criticizing their party or church. I guess they’re just more tolerant than other families mentioned here. I’m introverted and like having a way to let my loved ones in on my thoughts that isn’t talking. If my husband had a blog he hid from me or didn’t want me to read, personally, I’d be hurt. That would be a blow to our intimacy. But not all marriages are the same.

  • A quick shout out to my folks. I’m a raging atheist and one of my younger brothers is a raging homosexual. While my brother had to “officially” come out way more than I did it was mostly a non-event. Of all the things our parents taught us “family first” is the one they seem to adhere to the most, even when it makes them a little uncomfortable.
    So how about rather than “Love the sinner” it gets couched as “people first, ideologies second”?

  • Richard Wade

    Jeremy, you asked:

    How do I make this statement pertain to me. Do I say, “I love the religious person but hate the religion they follow”? Because that’s intolerant and haughty (but it’s a certainly true feeling, eek).

    Is there really no way to pursue the topics I might like to pursue without making people feel ehrm … poopy?

    Don’t base your behavior on some else’s dichotomy. Use your own terms. Don’t use the Christian’s terms of “love” and “hate.” That’s a mistake.

    I suggest that you should think in various forms of the word “respect.”

    Think of people’s being, beliefs and behaviors as three separate things.

    Think of treating people respectfully, respecting a belief and respecting a person as three separate things.

    Being: Treat people respectfully simply because they are people. That is your baseline.

    Beliefs: Respect someone’s beliefs or do not respect someone’s beliefs according to whether or not those beliefs make sense to you.

    Behavior: Actually respect or do not respect someone beyond the baseline of treating them respectfully, because of their behavior, their conduct, the actions they take in the world around them.

    This way, you can treat someone respectfully whether or not you respect their beliefs, AND whether or not you respect them because of their behavior, conduct, and actions.

    So for example, I generally do not respect Christians’ beliefs because they don’t make sense to me, but I can respect them if they behave in ways that I admire, that I find respectable. Regardless of those two things, I try my best to treat them respectfully whether or not I respect their beliefs or them.

    On the other hand, I might respect an atheist’s view on a subject if it makes sense to me, but I might not respect them if their conduct is not respectable. I’ll try my best to treat them respectfully regardless.

    So when you are writing on your blog, agree or disagree with a belief or opinion according to whether or not it makes sense to you. Respect or disrespect a person according to whether or not you find their behavior, their actual actions in the world to be respectable. Treat them all respectfully.

    You can disagree with people’s opinions, views and beliefs and you can even disapprove of people’s behavior without being cruel or rude. That’s the “treating respectfully” baseline.

    Don’t let someone try to sell you the idea that their beliefs are them, one and the same, implying that you must respect their beliefs because you should respect them. That is baloney. Respectfully disagree with them, explaining how being, beliefs and behaviors are three separate things.

  • Matthew

    My family is extremely computer illiterate. I would probably get disowned(and left with the bill for college tuition) if they discovered I was atheist, so my blog remains anonymous until I graduate.

  • My Husband does not read my blog because he prefers to remain ignorant of my past relationships and any issues relating to my feminine cycles. He’s supportive of my having a blog, but he’s easily squicked out. The atheism issues he does get anxious about as he’s a staunch fence-sitting agnostic and he does not like to debate religion, but does not want anyone to impose their beliefs on him, either. My mother will skim my blog only for pictures of her grandchildren, although Occasionally she’ll call me for updates and say “Yes, I read that bit…” but she doesn’t discuss, or judge and I love her more for it. I do have an uncle who I think was very happy to discover he had an ally in bashing the dark side of religion. He had a very tough Catholic upbringing and he’s been disenchanted for many years but has had to keep his ire to himself – now he has an ally. I love how this connection – which is maintained purely via the internet as I’m 10K miles away from him – has brought us closer.

  • mkb

    Wow, as an old fogey, the most interesting thing to me about these comments is to find out how many of you have blogs!

  • Wow, I enjoyed reading your responses to Hemant’s mention here today. Yesterday I sent him a note with the blog link hoping that — if he decided to post something about it — maybe it would spark something resembling this kind of conversation. And I’m ecstatic to learn it may have inspired a couple of you.

    For all the advice and personal stories, thank you. Sincerely. Humbly.

    Richard Wade, I’m still digesting your bits. I really appreciate taking the time to add that over at Le Café Witteveen too. I think we can all pull from your advice. Thank you.

    I have to say, it’s been an incredibly freeing and a burden-alleviating experience to finally have it ALL out. If you haven’t done it already, I highly recommend it if it’s something that you want to do. I mean, I was already out, but to make it abundantly clear … priceless.


  • Unfortunately, my family and friends don’t care to hear what I have to say on my blogs or otherwise. They know that I’m an Atheist and accept it for the most part. However, they seem to love me IN SPITE of it, rather than because of it. It actually breaks my heart that they do not take an interest in what I have to say or write about…

  • Does my family read my blog? Boy, do they. My parents and my grandparents read the whole thing. And that’s my coming out story in a nutshell. Years ago, I let slip that I had started a blog (not that I was trying especially hard to hide it), and they soon saw that one of my blog topics was atheism. I later came out pretty much the same way as an asexual.

    The benefits of coming out by blog? I’m more confident in writing. If I had to do it in person, it would take me much longer to build up my reserves of confidence. Also, in writing, I have as much time and space to explain myself as I need. My family is very accepting, partly because they’re just really cool, but also because they know how much I’ve thought it through. How much? This much! *Points to tens of thousands of words worth of essays in the archives* Over the years, I’ve observed my mother transition from being somewhat angry about my atheism to being somewhat proud of it. As in, she tells her friends about it, in the same way she tells them about all my academic acomplishments. I don’t understand why she does this, but I credit my blog.

  • Linda


    Your family does sound very cool! 🙂 I had to laugh at your reference to your mom bragging to her friends about you, because that’s how I feel about my own daughter. It’s not the non-belief that I’m proud of, but the fact that she doesn’t let anyone tell her what to think.

  • Carlie

    About “hate the sin love the sinner” – I dunno how terrible of a cocept it is. I have a lot of friends who I hold dear, but who have certain opinions I find loathsome. Those opinions range from liking brussels sprouts to opposing a public health care option. Some aren’t so bad, some are right up at my line of “if you think this way I don’t want to be friends with you”, but then thing they all have in common is that they are single exceptions on people I otherwise really like to be around. I treat religion as one of those things. I do have a fairly high tolerance for Christian(TM) behavior since I grew up with it, but to me it’s just another one of those things. You’ll never agree with your friends on everything.

  • One side effect of my blog that I hadn’t counted on is NOT KNOWING who reads it. If I’m at a business meeting, and someone seems to be giving me the cold shoulder, is it because of the Examiner page?

    I don’t think any of my friends read my pages though. That’s part of the reason I do it; I’m the only skeptic I know locally.

  • AnonyMouse

    Roughly translated, “hate the sin but love the sinner” may mean “God says that they’re doing something bad, but I can’t figure out for the life of me why.” It is also used to mean “God says that they’re doing something bad, so I have to believe that it’s bad too, but I care too much about this person to really condemn them.” There are plenty of Christians out there – my family included – who follow this precept without a hint of dishonesty or doublethink. I did this a lot as a Christian.

    Of course, there’s also the non-God version: “Some of your beliefs/claims/other idiosyncrasies drive me utterly bonkers, but I still care about you anyway.” I feel that way a lot.

  • I had a moment somewhat like this the other day, when my grandfather attempted to tell me a joke with the punchline of “Haha, the stupid atheist got punched”. Sort of a weird awkward moment as I smiled and launched into my pancakes.

  • I don’t think any member of my family is aware of any of my blogs… even the ones under my real name.

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