Ask Richard: Critical Mass: Atheists Facing the Unwelcome Christmas Ritual December 1, 2009

Ask Richard: Critical Mass: Atheists Facing the Unwelcome Christmas Ritual

I received two letters dealing with a similar holiday time quandary, going to Christmas Mass for the sake of the family, and so I am combining them in this post.

Note: When letter writers sign with their first names instead of a pseudonym or nickname, I randomly change their name for added anonymity.

Dear Richard,

I’ve been an atheist for several years now, and the only person in my family who knows is my sister, and she shares my doubts, though perhaps not quite as strongly as I do.

Every year around Christmastime I get anxious over how in the world I am going to escape Mass on Christmas. My parents are not fanatically religious, but my grandparents are, and I’m always hard pressed to find a way to not attend. My personal thoughts on the holiday are that a couple of days eating and spending time with family is a good thing, but I can’t be honest with myself and still attend church.

I’ve been toying with the idea of telling my parents, since I am now in my mid-twenties, and I think they will take me more seriously now than if I had told them several years ago. Telling them would help with the struggle I have around the holidays and they might be willing to play defense with my grandparents. I have a couple of problems with telling them, though. I doubt my sister would be willing to admit her feelings as well, because she is more of a “shut my mouth and please other people” kind of person, which I can’t fault her for, so I would be alone in this awkward situation. My dad is more accepting and contemplative, considering he is a therapist, so I wonder if I should tell him first, or have the talk with both my parents?

“Coming out of the closet” as an atheist has been something I have gone back and forth about for so long, and I wonder if finally saying it out loud would actually help or not. Would it just be better to keep my mouth shut and tolerate the religious services around Christmastime? After all, I don’t encounter them any other time of year. I just feel like I’m being dishonest with myself, and that my parents don’t know who I really am.

Thanks so much,


Dear Janice,

You have wrestled with this “coming out” decision for some time, year round. It has only become more vexing at this particular time because of the annoying ritual that you are expected to attend each year. I think of most coming out decisions as a matter of weighing cost versus benefit, risk versus safety.

It sounds like the main benefit of revealing your atheism would be that you would feel more true to yourself, and more honest, genuine and complete with your parents. For a person in her mid twenties, I can certainly understand your getting tired of hiding truths and faking things as if you were an adolescent still under your parent’s care. If you also tell your grandparents, you might not have to go to mass, but you might still end up going anyway, for concessionary reasons.

As for the cost, at worst there’s the risk of the anger, reproach, disappointment, division, and even disowning that sadly we so often hear about in families. You are the best judge of how likely that scenario is in your family. From what you’ve described, it sounds like there’s a chance that at least your parents would be able to adjust and accept it.

Coming out is a tough decision because there’s no going back. However, in your case, your family landscape could allow you to come out in controlled steps. At each step, having seen how things went, you could better estimate the cost versus benefit of the next step.

If you decide to go for it, I think that confiding in your dad as a first step is a good idea, since he is more accepting and contemplative, and is a therapist. There’s no guarantee that he’ll handle it the way you hope, but it sounds like he’s the best bet.

Approach him as an adult would approach a therapist. Ask if he is willing to talk with you about something confidentially, promising you that he will keep it just between the two of you until if and when you decide that your mother should be included. As a therapist, he understands the importance of confidentiality, and that it is an essential trust. If he agrees, then tell him your views and your concerns.

When atheists have kept this secret from loved ones for a long time, sometimes they inadvertently slip into a role of “confessing” it as if it’s a crime or a moral failing. Be careful to present it as a straight forward matter of fact about you, being neither ashamed and apologetic, nor defiant and proud. It’s just what’s so about you.

Based on the outcome of talking with your dad, you will be more able to decide whether and when to go to the next step of telling your mother. Again, make it clear to both of your parents that you must be the one who decides whether and when to tell your grandparents. Your parents may have useful advice about that.

Since your grandparents are the most religious, you might decide to postpone telling them. The cost of holding back may be that you have to go to yet another Christmas Mass to please them. As you said, it’s just a brief concession that you only have to perform once a year. Being able to be more open with your parents may be enough to compensate for that compromise to your grandparents’ feelings.

As far as your cautious sister is concerned, I would not ask her to come out with you; she should have no pressure about that. She should be allowed to do that on her own time and terms. But it would be considerate and fair to her to let her know what you intend to do, so that she is prepared for any waves this may generate through the family.

Janice, I hope whatever you decide results in a more relaxed and loving time with your family. The holiday season can be cold enough without having to feel like a Cold War spy concealing a secret identity.


Dear Richard,

I’ve enjoyed your column and site for sometime now. I’ve been an Atheist for several years now, and I’m lucky to have found a woman who, despite having an upbringing (like mine) in the Catholic church, is an Atheist as well.

I’m also very fortunate that her parents (my future in-laws) are very welcoming people who never preach or guilt us about our feelings on religion despite the strong connection they have with the Catholic church.

I am conflicted on one issue though: my future in-laws live out of town, and when we visit them for the Christmas holidays, there’s an unspoken expectation that we will join them in attending Midnight Mass on Christmas eve. While it’s only a minor inconvenience at worst, I’m conflicted as to whether or not I take communion. While it doesn’t offend me to do it, it also doesn’t mean anything to me either. On the other hand, I risk offending my father-in-law by not taking communion, or insulting the tenets of Catholicism by partaking in something in which I don’t have a spiritual connection.

Thanks in advance,


Dear Stewart,

Since apparently you are “out” enough with your in-laws so that they seem to accept your feelings about religion, your challenge is much simpler than Janice’s.

It sounds like you and your wife don’t mind going to the Mass as a gesture of courtesy to your in-laws, and that taking communion is not a problem for you. Since you are more or less able to be frank with your father-in-law about your lack of belief, why not simply ask him which he would prefer? Explain to him your concern about being respectful, just as you have explained here. Knowing that you don’t connect with it, would he see taking communion or not taking communion to be the more respectful thing for you to do?

The Catholic Church might have prescribed policies about this, but you don’t need to please the Church, you just want to be respectful to your in-laws. I think that they would be very pleased that you were showing them this consideration and being so conscientious.

I commend you on your sensitivity about the nuances of this, wanting to act respectfully to both your in-laws and the church tenets that have meaning for them.


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  • Peregrine

    The communion thing I can help with. If your inlaws know that you’re not Catholic, they’ll probably tell you that you don’t have to do communion if you don’t want to, or offer some other instructions. Listen to them, and your girlfriend. They know the routine better than you do. If they don’t say anything about it, then either ask, as Richard suggests, or decide for yourself what you want to do.

    If you don’t want to take communion, or the inlaws tell you not to, sit quietly while everyone else does. If the priest offers it to you anyway, take it and eat it, and don’t worry too much about it. They know you’re a guest among them, and they’re trying to be a gracious host, so return the favor by being a gracious guest.

    If you do end up taking communion, get in line, and do as the Romans do: Approach the priest, or the minister of the Eucharist, or whoever it happens to be, hold your hands out, palms up, with your left hand cupped open, and your right hand underneath. The priest will hold the cracker up in the air and say “The body of Christ.” To which you’re supposed to reply “Amen”, which I vaguely recall is supposed to mean “I believe” or something like that. But I don’t believe, so I just sort of nod or shrug, or look awkward or something. They usually don’t care; they’ve got a whole line of people to deal with. Then the priest will place the cracker in your palm.

    Then take your right hand, pick up, put it in your mouth. You’re not supposed to chew it, apparently. You’re supposed to let it dissolve in your mouth until it’s mushy enough to swallow whole. But you’ll be there all day doing that, so just swallow it and be done with it. It’s not like anyone’s going to check.

    Don’t drink the wine; at least not directly from the chalice that everyone else is drinking from. Eww, yuckey. Even many Catholics avoid that.

    Then go back to your seat. If they have kneeling benches, it’s customary to kneel until the procession is finished. But I don’t do that either. I just sit there and wait.

    But that’s more or less the textbook way to do it. That’s how we were taught in 2nd grade. Depending on the parish, you won’t have to do everything perfectly to blend in, but if they’re a little more hung up on ceremony than some of the parishes in my neighbourhood, then you’d be better off just sitting and waiting for them to finish.

    As for whether to go to church in the first place, I just got a job in a restaurant in my late teens/early 20s that kept me out all night and on holidays, so they didn’t bother me about it. But honestly, you’re an adult. And you ought to be able to make your own decision whether to go to mass or not, and if they don’t accept it, that’s their problem, not yours. If they take issue with it, and you’re not really ready to “come out” yet, then tell them you’ll go to a later mass, or that you already went to an earlier one, or something like that. Or just “No thanks, you go ahead without us.” If your family’s easy going about it, then they probably won’t say much.

  • TeddyKGB

    When it comes to family and friends, you pick your battles. If you have a relationship with someone mature enough to talk about “taboo” subjects like sex, religion, politics, etc., great – cherish them; they are few and far between. For everyone else, life is too short to lose friends and family over a my-worldview-is-greater-than-your-worldview argument.

    I’m a lapsed Catholic, but I’d never discuss that with my very Catholic mother, because it would wreck her. In fact, I gladly take her to mass every Sunday so she doesn’t have to go alone. This doesn’t make me any less of a nontheist; it makes me happy to see her happy, and I simply can’t get offended by things I’ve since contextualized as fairy tales. It’s one hour out of my day that I otherwise might not spend with my family; I’m probably better for it.

    I’m not one of those nontheists who defines themselves by what they don’t believe in, so other people’s beliefs about the world, when they’re harmless, don’t offend me. (They’re aware I’m pro-choice, for instance, and haven’t excommunicated me from the family or the church.) Embrace the nuance and the complications; it’s how you learn and understand better. Conservatives are the ones who need to simplify the world into stark black-and-white, yes-to-this-no-to-that terms, not me.

  • Fett101

    In regards to communion, the Roman Catholic churches I’ve attended allow non-Christians who go before the priest with their arms crossed over their chest (hands on the shoulders) to receive a blessing. Communion is a holy sacrament to Roman Catholics and you would be offending them by taking it.

  • Off topic:

    I respond to Hemant’s comments (and also the general position of the larger atheist blogosphere) on the Swiss minaret ban:

    Swiss Minarets and Liberal Atheists

  • Trace

    I used to go to church to please inlaws. Not anymore. They know how I feel (they think it is ridiculous but let me be). It took a while but eventually you’ll be there (I hope). Best luck!

  • Last Christmas we (my wife, kids and I) were invited to a Christmas production (by my brother’s wife) put on by a local church. It was a huge production (they sell tickets and all) with flying angels on wires, singing, and chorography – all wrapped in a morality story about getting saved. Simply put, it was two hours of my life I will never get back. My wife, who is a Christian, also hated it. Anyway, we were invited back to the play this year as well. My wife and I talked it over and decided that we couldn’t stand to sit through that again and declined the invitation. My brother’s wife never mentioned it again. I’m glad we declined.

    I know this little anecdote is different than a Catholic mass, but I’d thought I’d share. Perhaps if I was Catholic, I would go to mass, take communion, and just palm the cracker and take it home 😉 (kidding)

  • TeddyKGB

    Fett101 Says: Communion is a holy sacrament to Roman Catholics and you would be offending them by taking it.

    Read the letter; they say they were both raised Catholic – and Catholics believe once a Catholic, always a Catholic. They can still receive communion without offending anyone.

  • Just say that you’re not going.

    If they don’t ask why, then don’t worry about it.

    If they do ask, just say that you don’t believe in that sort of thing, and aren’t going to do it any more.

    Basically, just be very matter-of-fact about it, and don’t make it into any kind of issue. Think of it like this: if you treat it as simply the way things are, and don’t make a big deal out of it, then it’ll be up to other people to make it into a big problem. And usually, people are reluctant to start trouble when none is evidently there.

    But this method absolutely *relies* on treating it casual. Simply state the facts of what you’re going to do and nothing more. Don’t bring it up the topic, just let it flow naturally into normal conversation.

    If you do need to bring up the topic (perhaps it hasn’t come up and you’re getting close to the time of the thing), then a good way would be something like “Hey, I’m going to be doing X while you guys are at mass”, where X implies that you won’t be there. Then you can lead into the conversation, but again, be strictly matter-of-fact on the topic. Simply “this is how it is”, and you’re not trying to start any sort of argument about it.

    One good tactic that works is to assume they already knew, and to be surprised that they didn’t. Like “Mom, be serious, I haven’t believed in that sort of thing since I was 15” or what have you. Casual. It takes either a very strong willed or very religious person to argue against that sort of approach.

  • Fett101

    Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.

    Pretty sure being an atheist is be considered a sin. I’m being specific to the Roman Catholic church too as that’s what I was raised in so that’s what I know.

  • DeafAtheist

    Despite the fact that I’m the only nonbeliever that I know of in my family, my family isn’t very religious… they believe but they don’t attend church services except for weddings and funerals which is the same for me. I don’t go to church unless there’s a wedding or funeral… in fact most weddings I skip and then show up for the reception. So fortunately I don’t have an issue with Christmas church services.

    Personally tho I really don’t care if my lack of participation in a church service is offensive to anyone. I see no point in participating in a religious service that I don’t believe in. In fact they should feel grateful I’m even attending because being dragged to a religious service is offensive to me.

  • Claudia

    Read the letter; they say they were both raised Catholic – and Catholics believe once a Catholic, always a Catholic. They can still receive communion without offending anyone.

    But isn’t there something about not being able to take communion if you are living in sin? Considering how easy it is to sin even for believers, it’s very likely that a non-believer is doing something the Church says is a no-no, and not confessing, obviously.

    As I understand it, you aren’t supposed to take communion if you don’t believe in it, and considering the kind of crap PZ Meyers got for stealing the cracker, I take it some Catholics are mind-blowingly touchy about it.

    However if the in-laws have requested their presence at mass despite knowing they don’t believe, then they are likely a lot less hung up about the subject. It could just be that they consider it a family ceremony that they don’t want to break. I think Richard’s advice of asking the in-laws what they think is best is right on the money.

  • Amyable Atheist

    I was raised by liberal Catholics – upper middle class Democrats who improved on their middle class upbringings but always felt a little guilty about it, which seems to me one of the reasons why they’ve held onto Catholicism. They’re also of the generation that was so inspired by and hopeful for progressive change after Vatican II so I have more sympathy for their allegiance than I do for those attracted to the perverse, hypocritical and misogynistic conservatism of the modern RC Church.

    Although I didn’t make the transition from lapsed Catholic/apathetic agnostic (I don’t mean this to refer to all agnostics, just myself at one stage) to intellectually fulfilled atheist until my late 20s, from about 4th grade on I made it quite clear that I despised going to church, which we did every week. Eventually I just learned to put up with it, walking through the motions of Mass and Communion. I even went through Confirmation in high school for entirely pragmatic reasons – I reasoned that if, for some reason, I DID want to get married in a church someday, getting this “certification” out of the way would make it easier to do whatever I wanted in the future.

    While I still go to mass with the family when I’m home for the holidays (though not if I’m home for a normal weekend, and that’s never been an issue), several years ago, even before I really figured out my atheism, I stopped taking Communion. While attending the service is something that any polite visitor could do (I don’t enjoy it but I do it for them), taking part in Communion would be hypocrisy on my part and, I further reasoned, a grave insult and disrespect to anyone who truly believes in the concept. It was a problem one Easter when my mother tried to gently pull me out of the pew, but I held my ground and she never said anything after that. I also don’t bless myself with holy water on the way in, genuflect at the pew, or recite any prayers – basically I’m a polite alien visitor.

    For me, attending the service is showing respect for my parents and keeping the peace, but play-acting Communion is just ridiculous, unnecessary and too much of a compromise, and I would like to think that the religious perspective would agree with that compromise. But of course, these decisions are highly individual and based on the complex calculus of family dynamics. I wish everyone patience, reflection and luck in dealing with this tricky issue, which is often the only public face of non-belief to our families.

  • Sue D. Nymme

    You can go to church as an atheist. You’re not going to turn to stone at the doorway.

    Go. Go to be polite and to be part of the family. Go to honor your family, if not their beliefs.

    If you just met someone, and were invited to participate in their weird tribal religious ceremony, would you spit in their face and say “Bah, I don’t believe in your crap!”? Or would your curiosity be piqued, and would you participate for the cultural aspect of it?

    Sit back, relax. Think of it as a cultural experiment, an archaic tradition, or just an eccentric family ceremony to go through. Don’t let it get under your skin.

  • flawedprefect

    Same here – raised by liberal Catholics. Married a Catholic girl, who now questions much of her faith (my nasty, nasty influence). When I go to mass because of family, I, too, pick my battles. I do it to be with them, but I never take communion – they can take me somewhere, but they cannot force me what I will and will not do once there.

    Xmas has been pretty great for me over the past few years. I am by no means closeted in my non-belief (and sometimes vocal criticism of the Catholic church, but that has little to do with God in any case). Still, I much prefer going to the Xmas mass with my wife’s family, because it is held in the open, in a park, and her parents go there and socialize. My father-in-law is a jovial Vietnamese man who’ll bark (half jokingly) “we have to go to mass! Everyone has to come!” Then when we get there, while carols are being sung, communion is being offered, etc, he’s at the back of the park, near the shops, with a beer in one hand, a cigarette in the other, chatting and laughing with a long time friend.

    Beats going with my family to the stuffy St Mary’s service where homeless men are promptly shooed out of the cathedral should they wander in off the street.

    Wish I were making most of that up. It’s my life, and it’s pretty funny at times.

  • Tizzle

    To the first letter writer:

    Here’s one idea– just go through with Mass this year so as not to rock any boats, but promise yourself you’ll tell them you’re an atheist in January, or immediately after the holidays. Holidays, for many people, are a time of stress and bringing it up now might make that worse. If you know they’ll react badly, part of the reason for their reaction is perhaps that the tradition is changing. People hate that.

    That way you’ll have all of next year to prepare the parents and grandparents that you aren’t going and they’ll be able to get used to the idea.

    I used a similar tactic when I told my mother I was getting a tattoo. There was so much prep work/time that she was very blasé about it when I finally got it.

  • Tom Woolf

    I was also raised Catholic, and my family eventually became classic Catholics (going to church only on the classic days – Easter and Xmas). Ultimately, 4 of the 8 kids have become atheists. My mother toyed with all sorts of christianity after my father’s death 20 years ago, even hanging out with babblers (speaking-in-tongue folks). She grew out of that pretty quickly.

    Anyways, I may be lucky in that my family is not devout, so the conflict of “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU ARE NOT GOING TO CHURCH?!?” does not exist. However, I will not attend a mass under most circumstances as a show of respect to those who believe whatever is being delivered at the mass. I have attended two masses in the past 17 years – both part of weddings. One I was not expecting (should have – it was in a Catholic church), the other I was expecting and was part of the wedding party. Scared the bejesus out of me when the Minister looked at the wedding party in what I thought was a request for us all to take communion (which I will NOT do). Fortunately, he was just really intense, and it was an invite rather than request, and 3 of the 6 groomsmen did take part.

    Although I believe them all to be wrong, I have a lot of respect for others’ religious beliefs (as long as they don’t include vile things such as sex with kids, domination of women, racist overtones, etc.). Because of that respect I will not go through the motions of going to a mass if the person who invites me believes that I am a believer. If they know I am not a believer and they invite me anyways, I will politely decline, just as I would decline an invite to a Young Republican meeting, an AA meeting, or any other meeting that has the purpose of affirming a thing I do not believe or does not concern me.

    The two who asked for advice should stand up for themselves. Going to church as an atheist when you don’t believe is on par with an alcoholic joining somebody for a drink to be sociable. Not good for either one of you, and you’re doing both just because you don’t have the confidence to stand up for yourself.

  • TeddyKGB

    I’m late to responding, but if being a sinner prevented Catholics from getting communion, no one would receive it.

    I’d like to add that Otto and Tom Woolf’s “advice” is pretty horrible; the response to religious fundamentalism is not atheistic fundamentalism. It is possible to be proud of your beliefs without being prideful. People who are deliberate shit-stirrers are useless on any side of the religious debate.

  • I don’t know, I was taught that if one person does not believe in the communion, the transformation of the eucharist cannot take place. I’ve always used it as my excuse for not taking it. Even if I don’t believe, I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s either.

  • Fett101

    Mortal/grave sin, TeddyKGB. Not just any sin.

  • LiveAndLetLive

    I wish I had read Janice’s letter last year. I can relate. Since my father’s death six years ago, my mother has become more actively religious than ever. Every autumn I would start to feel dread as the expectations of attending holiday services came up. I also had a long debate about whether or not to “come out” as I knew it would make my mother pray for me, feel like she had failed as a parent, cry, and generally become depressed (as she does whenever faced with anything that bursts her life expectations). It became even harder for me knowing that she was now a widow. But I felt that to be true to myself, I could no longer attend church and pretend I was someone I was not. (It would be one thing if she knew I was not religious, and then attended church as a mark of my respect for her, but it was an entirely different feeling to have to “hide” my true self and feel like I was living a lie).

    The funny thing is that even after all my planning for how to break the news to her, I just blurted it out all matter-of-factly during a regular phone call. She invited me to Christmas service, and I heard myself reply like it was no big deal, “You know, I am just not a church-goer. I appreciate that you have found comfort in the church and I am glad you have found many friends there. But it’s just not something I want to participate in, and I don’t want to feel like I have to pretend to be something I’m not. I feel that I am a good person even if I don’t attend church. I hope you understand.” And I said it so casually, that even though she was surprised, she covered her surprise and said politely, “Oh, I knew that for years. I just wanted you to know you were welcome.” She must have, on some level.

    And the point of sharing my story is that I agree with those who said that if you state it as a fact, something that is normal and not a big giant problem, the person you tell may react better than you anticipate. My other point is that your family probably already senses the truth on some level, because the longer you make excuses for not attending, or sound like you are reluctant to accept an invitation to attend, they must be cluing in. If you leave it for a long time (20 years in my case), it may make your family member feel a bit left out and sad that you didn’t feel you could confide in them all that time. Only when the truth comes out can everyone hopefully know and accept each other.

  • Philip Tucker

    Dear Janice,

    I came out at 60.

    My function in life was to render clear what was already
    blindingly conspicuous.
    — Quentin Crisp

  • I agree with Otto. Just say that you cannot attend. No reasons or excuses need to be given. As an adult you get to make your own decisions and you don’t need to justify then to anyone.

  • False Prophet

    You’re not supposed to take Communion unless you’re a baptised Catholic and you’ve recently gone to confession or otherwise not in a state of sin. Atheism is a sin.

    And by Church doctrine, individuals can’t prevent transfiguration from taking place since it is the rite itself that is sacred. To think the rite is tainted if the celebrant or participants are in a state of sin is called the Donatist heresy (I studied Augustine for a while, and dismantling this heresy was one of his goals).

    Whenever I’ve been in a Mass situation with my family (I don’t go to Christmas or Easter Mass, but have gone to baptisms, weddings and funerals out of respect), I just stay seated during Communion. If this is not done at your relatives’ church, just go up with your arms crossed on your chest and your hands on the opposite shoulders.

    And be prepared for frustration: the church will be fuller than it normally is, full of people like you who have no idea how to behave, even if they self-identify as Catholics. 🙂

  • Polly

    just go up with your arms crossed on your chest and your hands on the opposite shoulders.

    IOW, vampire-in-repose.

  • Jim H

    @Fett101 quoting Can. 916:

    I recall hearing Penn Jillette (Teller wasn’t speaking;-)) say about how the Freemasons have a rule that only a Freemason can wear their ring–but if you aren’t a Freemason, their rules don’t apply to you.

    Whether Catholics consider atheism to be a sin isn’t really relevant. Whether Stewart’s future in-laws consider it one is slightly more important.

  • Fett101

    Well obviously Richards advice is the most prudent. It’s just typically courtesy to follow the rules of the house when visiting. I guess I’m a stickler for rules. 😀

  • Anne

    well cant wait!:p

    Im a 20yr old girl. Im a newly ex-muslim and an atheist now. I have been doubting in existace of god for quite a while but now I have declared myself as an atheist. I live in a muslim country Pakistan which has really strict views about religon. First I told my best friends that im no longer a muslim and they were so shocked and thought my views as plain stupid. I get into fights with them whenever i express my views because they think that they can call atheists as dumb people any time but if i say anythng about god or islam they get offended. When i ask them that if it is fair that they can regard my views as anything but im not allowed to do that with them! Their reply is that you have no faith so you cant get offended! Now i have told my parents that i am an atheist and its a good thing that they are not so religious but they do think that im on a wrong path. I dont think they take me that seriously on this issue but i have made them clear about my belifs especially to my mum. Now the problem is that one of my best friend asks me not tell other people cause many serious problems will arise. I know it myself that i might get bad attitude from my other relatives or people i interact with. I might get killed too in country like Pakistan. I don’t live in a place where i can get freedom of speech and i havnt met a single atheist in my whole life or never heard of anyone over here. I feel so alone and think that as being an atheist i’ll be deprived of basic rights. Muslims cannot marry an atheist and i know in near future i’ll be asked by my mum to stay shut about atheist thing or no one will marry me. On the other hand my best friend says that if i did’nt tell my husband or his family before i get married then i would be a big coward and that family reserve the right to know the truth. This thing made me so enraged and i said to him that i’ll start off with announcing in my whole university that im an atheist and i dont give a damn if i get killed! But then my friend said you should’nt tell in university, you should only tell your husband and his family.
    I am so much confused. I know that when i’ll get ready to be married i’ll be asked to shut up. But what if my husband’s family turns out to be religious? How can i offer prayers when i dont believe in god?? What if my husband made me pray and offer all the religious activities! I dont want to fast for 30 days without any purpose!! and what if i told him that im an atheist he’ll just make me ridiculed in front of everyone that im not married to this girl cause a muslim cannot be married to an atheist!
    My life going pretty much smooth at this time cause only those people knw about reality of my faith who are close to me. Im just worried about how things will work for me in future. Any advices??

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