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s/o - Coming Out - How do deal with family and friends?


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In the thread about different religions in a marriage PinkInTheBlue asked how people deal with family and friends when changing religious beliefs. DH and I, like PinkInTheBlue, have been in the closet so to speak about our lack of religion.

 

DH's mother is a fundamentalist, evangelical, uber-conservative, Christian. Her oldest son is a self proclaimed atheist and this breaks her heart. When DH and I had our first child I began to look around at our local churches thinking we would start going to church because that is what you do when you have a family. Dh didn't want any part of it and after a while I admitted my lack of religious beliefs. Despite the fact that dh started our family down this path we know that MIL would blame me. We also know she would be absolutely devastated that a second son was not religious, probably can say agnostic, and that her children were being raised without religion. Once MIL had a bit too much to drink and yelled at me that dh and his other brother need to stand up and be the head of their households, that they both need to "tell their families what they WILL believe." There was other stuff said too. She didn't outright ask me anything and I didn't tell her anything either. I just sat quietly. It was upsetting and ridiculous.

 

Our homeschooling circle also consists of very religious families. I worry that some would choose not to associate with us and would encourage their children not to be friends with my boys. This has happened to a friend of mine who is not religious, yet she does not really talk about it.

 

We find ourselves skirting religion or just smiling and nodding along not to make waves. We also purge our bookshelves of certain books when we have visitors. It feels ridiculous that we can't just be who we are and not have to worry about causing problems in our relationships. It isn't like we would be disrespectful to anyone about their beliefs.

 

Has anyone here changed denominations or religions and had an uncomfortable fall out with family or friends? How did you tell them? Did your relationships change?

 

Is anyone here also hiding their religious beliefs not to upset family?

 

If you are religious how would you feel if a close friend, family member, or one of your children changed religions? How would you feel if they hid it from you to escape conflict?

 

SJ

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I hid my lack of religion for a long time. But, ya know, if other people can be open about their beliefs, I can too! (And so can you!)

My parents thought I would head back to the church when ds12 came along. My father, who is a minister, said I could not raise moral children without the church. For a long time I skirted around the issue, hemming and hawing, maybe I'm Buddhist, or agnostic, or whatever. Three years ago, I got tired of it and just said outloud, "I'm an atheist."

I had 2 friends say, "We are, too!" I am very respectful to my family and friends who are religious. We are teaching our boys to also be respectful. But, as with any lesson, it's taking some practice and we've had lots of long talks about respect. With my religious clients (I clean houses) and with older family members, I don't discuss it. At all. Ever.

I was joking with my mom about something the other day and said, "This, coming from your atheist daughter! Ha!" She said, "I don't think of you as atheist. I think you're agnostic. You have to believe in something." I laughed again and said, "No Mom, I'm actually polyatheist. There are lots of gods I don't believe in." Thanks for that steal, by the way, Hive Member I Can't Remember! I don't hide but I am respectful and there is no need to upset people.

If you live in America, we have freedom of religion. I like to think that extends to freedom FROM religion.

And a few years ago, my dad gave me the biggest compliment I could have asked for. He said that I was succeeding in raising good, moral boys without religion. He didn't think it could be done and I had proven him wrong. My heart soared!

And OP, keep those books right where they are proudly displayed on your shelf. That's a freedom in America, too!

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Though we were both atheists before becoming Christians, DH's family are Southern Baptist. When we were baptized into the Episcopal church, he invited them. None of them came, though they had for years been bugging him about his lack of faith. Apparently, he chose the wrong flavor of Christianity for their tastes. They've made several ignorant comments over the last few years. He ignores it. That's their problem, not ours.

 

As for friends, I can't imagine caring if someone who was that shallow didn't want to associate with me over my religious preferences. We are part of two different homeschool groups and one is religious. I am about as far away in theology as you can get from most of them, but I just don't join in conversations with which I disagree. I don't draw attention to my differing views and it's never been an issue. Nobody has asked me point-blank: how old do YOU think the world is? or anything else, though I've heard them talking about such things.

 

As for how I'd feel if my children changed religions, I'm sure some measure of sadness as I obviously think I'm right, right? But, I also believe that we all have individual paths to follow and God will call us to himself in his own way.

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I don't think it ever ends well when you're trying to pretend to be something you're not.

 

It can be very difficult to be upfront about who you are and what you believe, but eventually, skirting around the issue gets very uncomfortable and you keep digging yourself into a deeper hole, which makes you feel like a phony and a liar -- and you also start questioning whether or not your "friends" would still be your friends if they knew the real you.

 

There's a lot to be said for being honest right from the beginning, because the longer you wait, the more difficult it is, and the more you run the risk of hurting nice people's feelings, because they may feel betrayed when they find out you've been playing a bit fast and loose with the truth (even though you didn't have any ill intentions at all.)

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Kalah, Your post is very uplifting to me, thank you. :001_smile:

 

Kebg11, I do the same with these friends. You are right that it is shallow but my boys really value these friendships. I do not chime in during religious conversations nor would I answer any questions in a dishonest way if outright asked and if I couldn't skirt the issue.

 

It is sad that personal relationships could be negatively affected this way. I have more confidence that my friends/acquaintances would accept me than I do that my MIL would accept me/us.

 

Anyone else?

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I don't think it ever ends well when you're trying to pretend to be something you're not.

 

:iagree: Provided it isn't something very limited, like a ancient great-aunt you see once every couple of years for tea.

 

I also think that "faking it" is an insult to true believers. E.g. my ex ILs were very hot for us to marry in a Sikh temple, but neither of us were Sikhs (me never, and he raised that way, but never believing). They wanted it for saving face with their friends. It was sort of a keeping-up-with-the-Singhs over whose kids would keep their hair uncut and marry someone from India. They called me a bigot because I wouldn't be married by the Guru. But to me, to do that and fake it was an insult to true believers.

 

Ditto people who marry in a definitely religious way: I'm thinking of a big Catholic wedding where neither of the couple was being honest about their beliefs. Again, it was more for the parent's friends than for themselves or even the parents.

 

But, call me old-fashioned. ;)

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Personally, if it were my child, I would be heartbroken and devastated. I mean, seriously, I see it as my #1 job to do everything I can to help this kid get to heaven for eternity.

 

Would I disown them? No. Would I be angry? I'd like to think not, in the long run, but in the immediate it's hard to say. Would I make it my life's mission to pray for them, tell everyone I can think of to pray for them, have masses offered for them, invoke the saints for them, storm the gates of heaven - yes, definitely.

 

I would also make it a point of letting them know that atheism doesn't scare me and that we can talk about it as much as they want. :001_cool:

 

Where I think it's possible for things to go wrong (and I've seen this happen with lots of things besides divergent religious views) is when a person starts demanding, or wheedling (I swear, when people wheedle, it doesn't make me want to give them what they want, it just makes me want to punch them), for my approval on the topic.

 

I have seen this happen over and over again. My dh's brother left his wife, moved, got married to another woman exactly 6 days after his civil divorce was final. :glare: We said NOTHING. Deliberately. But he wouldn't leave it alone. He kept pushing and wheedling and manipulating, trying to get us to give his divorce and "remarriage" our seal of approval - despite what he KNOWS to be our beliefs on the subject. Our silence was not enough. It didn't end well.

 

So, if you are going to "come out" with something that you know that people close to you are going to disapprove of, let them have their opinions and feelings and don't try to force your desire for approval onto them. It takes whatever the "it" is and heaps a huge insult on top of it.

 

I hope that makes sense.

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Anyone who drunkenly ranted at my husband to order his family to believe as she did would entirely lose status as someone to be heeded about religion. I am so sorry you had to witness that.

 

For us, we just stated it quietly and firmly, and then left to let it sink in. Then we spent about five years coming late and leaving early to family functions, being painfully polite the whole while but heading off serious conversations. We had several difficult moments with several difficult people when we had to lay down the boundary, "I understand that you disagree with our choices on religion and I'm sorry for that, but we will not be discussing it." And we'd get up and leave, as needed, to enforce that boundary, but always come back to the next family function as if everything was fine.

 

The major collateral damage was my Grandma. She felt it her bounden duty to quietly pull me aside on every single occasion to tell me I was doing it wrong and risking eternity. She would lovingly reduce me to tears, over and over. I'm very thankful she never said that stuff to DH or my kids, but I also needed to protect myself from it. So when she wouldn't stop, I quit visiting as regularly as I used to. I now go to family gatherings on holidays but do not take my kids to their great-grandparents' house to visit. They only live 5 miles away. It has been a tremendous loss in so many ways.

 

Well, after all this semi-awkwardness and forced politeness, finally our teens started proving themselves to be very decent people and I guess we started looking a little less like total failures, so all the difficult conversations and awkward moments stopped.

 

But I know they still think we're all going to hell. I just let them think it. And I also know we will never, never be as close as we once were, or as close as we'd be if I'd only thought exactly like them. And that hurts.

 

So that's my story. Here's something I know: If any of them had abused us (beyond criticism) or disrespected our right to freedom of religion in front of our children, or tried to convert our kids, or did some big dramatic show at Thanksgiving dinner, I would have cut them off without a second thought. I'm not letting anybody screw up my kids over religion, not even Grandma. My children will have a normal childhood in a faith-based home, without family religious baggage over-shadowing the beautiful truths they have learned about Jesus.

 

Edited to add: In my case, we did not leave Christianity. We just went to a more liberal and inclusive Protestant denomination! Yet they think we're going to hell. It is no different to them than if we'd become atheist.

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:iagree: Provided it isn't something very limited, like a ancient great-aunt you see once every couple of years for tea.

 

That's a good point. Sometimes it's not worth upsetting someone just to get a burden off your own chest.

 

So, if you are going to "come out" with something that you know that people close to you are going to disapprove of, let them have their opinions and feelings and don't try to force your desire for approval onto them. It takes whatever the "it" is and heaps a huge insult on top of it.

 

That's an excellent point. Just because you make a change in your life does not mean that everyone else has to automatically embrace those changes with open arms. Be polite, be firm, explain your position, and then shut up about it. Give the people around you some time to digest the information, and be willing to answer their questions without a chip on your shoulder. And if things get nasty, don't argue, just politely disengage yourself from the conversation and give the people some space for a while (which I know isn't always easy to do!)

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I was an agnostic before I became a Christian. My parents never raised me to follow any religion and all of my friends were atheists or agnostics. When I became a Christian it shook everything up. I lost all of my friends except for my very best friend. She hung with me for a few years until eventually I lost her too. I had gone to church and got saved there. When I came home and told my mom I had given my life to God her reply was, "That's fine for you, just don't put it off on me." And that's pretty much how our relationship was. She didn't criticize or ridicule me or anything like that, she just made it clear she wanted no part in it.

 

My brother was in the military at that time and when he got out and came back home he started going to church with me and he got saved. My brother kept inviting my mom to come to church and she never went. Finally one Easter she went to my brother's church (I went too) and she gave her life to God that day. Now that we are all Christians it's not an issue anymore, but really even when we weren't it wasn't horribly bad. My mom still accepted me how I was even if she didn't agree with it back then.

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Oh goodness, yes.

 

We left the Mormon church and went about three years before being completely honest with my husband's family. They just thought we were "inactive." the night before our adoption, his sister made some sarcastic remark and then his mom added something about (finger wagging tone) "getting those girls baptized." so, he sat down and told them everything. I'm so glad I wasn't there. His mom cried and cried. She truly believes we won't be with them in heaven.

 

Leaving the LDS church is hard because there are a lot of cultural changes. For instance, we drink! That just about put them over the edge. They thought we would for sure become alcoholics and that our kids would be alcoholics, etc. now to be fair, my in-laws have always lived in Utah and don't have many friends who arent LDS, so I'm sure their worldview is very different from many, if not most, other Mormons.

 

Anyhow. There were some awkward moments over the next few years but I think once they saw that we were still the same people and we were good parents, etc. they realized that it was all going to be ok. It's been about 4 years since we told them and things are good now. We are open and honest, but very respectful. We participate in all the normal family rituals and they were surprised that my dh went to his niece's baptism the last time he was in town. (no reason he wouldn't)

 

I guess my point is, it was like ripping off a bandAid initially, then it took a loooooong time to heal. They have to get used to the idea and figure out how to treat you, even how to talk to you. I think they are still genuinely surprised at much we agree on things (other than religion).

 

I also wish we had told them sooner. It would have saved a few years of the put-downs and snide remarks from BILs and SIls about our lack of church involvement. But dh didn't think his parents were ready and that's ok.

 

Friends...well, like with anything, ou'll find out who your real friends are. ;)

 

We are not religious (UU) but we have pretty conservative homeschool friends. I'm just open with them when it comes up, but I am not combative about it and I don't announce it, especially when I'm in the minority. It's nice to develop relationships with people at aren't based in faith. It reminds you and others that there are wonderful people you can learn a lot from who share very different beliefs.

 

It's still a journey for us and there are some friends who will just never understand. (FYi those are the friends who will ask you why you left, then want to argue why you are wrong they fail to realize you left the religion because you don't agree! So there's no argument!)

 

I think it's important to be honest and true, for yourlf and your children, but allow your family to take the time to process it all. It can be devastating for them, and that's ok.

 

God luck. :grouphug:

 

Please excuse the typing! I'm on the stupid iPad! I also wanted to add that my inlaws are wonderfully supportive now!

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I am hiding my religious views in my new town. From what I can tell, it is overwhelmingly Christian. I am used to a diverse city where you never make assumptions about others' beliefs. The one time i was involved in a predominantly Christian group i kept my mouth shut and hoped they would grow to like me before they found out.

 

In my new to, I joined a public school's homeschool charter program, and on the organization's Facebook page there are lots of invitations to Christian events. I thought that was odd, since the group is not affiliated with any religion. One of the members started a mom's support group and I went to a meeting, hoping to meet some friends, but within minutes it was clear that it was really for Christians. "We are not educating for Harvard; we are educating for heaven." Every topic was brought back to what Jesus Christ calls us to do. I didn't that've anything to contribute.

 

I don't have a problem having religious friends, but I resent the assumption that I believe what they believe. No one asked me if I was interested in artending a Christian group. No one asked if I was Christian before they began speaking for me. But i knew that outing myself would not go over well, especially after the discussion about how "we" Christians are called to be role models for non-Christians, and how incredible it is that schools can get away with their liberal agenda. One of the moms talked about how she really preferred her kids to not just play with kids from their church, but really just the homeschooled kids from their church, because the public schooled kids have a differerent world view. Well, I know my atheist child would not be a welcome playmate.

 

So I won't go to another of those meetings, but I would like to find friends who aren't so focused on Jesus as the center of their life that they have nothing in common with me. I'm still not sure if I will try to fly under the radar or will be more outspoken. Part of me wants to ask point-blank "is this meeting Christian, or inclusive?" the next time a secular-sounding invitation comes up. I probably will, and let the chips fall where they may. People who judge me as not worthy based on my beliefs aren't really worth my time, anyhow.

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I don't think it ever ends well when you're trying to pretend to be something you're not.

 

It can be very difficult to be upfront about who you are and what you believe, but eventually, skirting around the issue gets very uncomfortable and you keep digging yourself into a deeper hole, which makes you feel like a phony and a liar -- and you also start questioning whether or not your "friends" would still be your friends if they knew the real you.

 

There's a lot to be said for being honest right from the beginning, because the longer you wait, the more difficult it is, and the more you run the risk of hurting nice people's feelings, because they may feel betrayed when they find out you've been playing a bit fast and loose with the truth (even though you didn't have any ill intentions at all.)

 

Catwoman - you are right. As far as friends, I guess I only feel phony about one relationship, in that relationship I never lied nor misled but I think she does think that we share beliefs.

 

In the homeschool group the one mom I am semi-close to and actually consider a friend knows our family does not attend religious services. She kindly invited us to attend mass with her and I politely declined. Now that I am thinking about this a little more I guess I wouldn't feel too bad if anyone else in the group chose not to associate with us over religion. I don't feel like I am lying or misleading anyone here because no one has ever asked me about my family's religious beliefs and I choose not to actively participate in religious conversations.

 

With MIL, dh and I think she already has her suspicions about me. He jokes that she thinks I am the antichrist of the family that has come to lead him away. With her I also avoid religious conversations.

 

Is avoiding and not participating in religious conversations when you do not share the same views the same as lying or misleading?

 

:iagree: Provided it isn't something very limited, like a ancient great-aunt you see once every couple of years for tea.

 

I also think that "faking it" is an insult to true believers. E.g. my ex ILs were very hot for us to marry in a Sikh temple, but neither of us were Sikhs (me never, and he raised that way, but never believing). They wanted it for saving face with their friends. It was sort of a keeping-up-with-the-Singhs over whose kids would keep their hair uncut and marry someone from India. They called me a bigot because I wouldn't be married by the Guru. But to me, to do that and fake it was an insult to true believers.

 

Ditto people who marry in a definitely religious way: I'm thinking of a big Catholic wedding where neither of the couple was being honest about their beliefs. Again, it was more for the parent's friends than for themselves or even the parents.

 

But, call me old-fashioned. ;)

 

I see what you mean about it being an insult. What if you are not directly lying, but just avoiding? What if you are trying to avoid WWIII in your family?

 

Personally, if it were my child, I would be heartbroken and devastated. I mean, seriously, I see it as my #1 job to do everything I can to help this kid get to heaven for eternity.

 

Would I disown them? No. Would I be angry? I'd like to think not, in the long run, but in the immediate it's hard to say. Would I make it my life's mission to pray for them, tell everyone I can think of to pray for them, have masses offered for them, invoke the saints for them, storm the gates of heaven - yes, definitely.

 

I would also make it a point of letting them know that atheism doesn't scare me and that we can talk about it as much as they want. :001_cool:

 

Where I think it's possible for things to go wrong (and I've seen this happen with lots of things besides divergent religious views) is when a person starts demanding, or wheedling (I swear, when people wheedle, it doesn't make me want to give them what they want, it just makes me want to punch them), for my approval on the topic.

 

I have seen this happen over and over again. My dh's brother left his wife, moved, got married to another woman exactly 6 days after his civil divorce was final. :glare: We said NOTHING. Deliberately. But he wouldn't leave it alone. He kept pushing and wheedling and manipulating, trying to get us to give his divorce and "remarriage" our seal of approval - despite what he KNOWS to be our beliefs on the subject. Our silence was not enough. It didn't end well.

 

So, if you are going to "come out" with something that you know that people close to you are going to disapprove of, let them have their opinions and feelings and don't try to force your desire for approval onto them. It takes whatever the "it" is and heaps a huge insult on top of it.

 

I hope that makes sense.

 

Tammy, What if their opinions and feelings forever fracture your relationship? What if their reaction is hateful? I can hardly let anyone treat me or my family that way. Why wouldn't I want my MIL to be ok with who we are, maybe not agree, but be ok? Perhaps I am misunderstanding you here.

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I just don't talk about it much.

 

For the most part, religion is a private matter in my extended family. The only reason I officially "came out" to my mother was b/c she tried to push the baptism issue.

I grew up in a liberal church, so it isn't as though anything I did (other than going to church) changed at any point.

 

It doesn't come up often, if at all, in social circles other than Christian hs groups, so no real problems for me there.

 

I do hang out on atheist hs groups/pages and read some atheist blogs now and then to get my fix, but I don't like talking about atheism all. the. time. It's a title of exclusion, so why does it take up so much "space" in so many atheists' lives?! :tongue_smilie:

 

My dh, otoh, mentions his atheism every time his mother mentions her Christianity. She has giant double standards.

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I honestly haven't lost any friends over it. Several of my closest friends are devout Christians. We understand each other. I see they are good people. They see I'm good people. We truly believe in the core basics anyway. Be nice. Share. Help each other. That's not religion; that's decency. It's only the finer points that we disagree on - salvation and all that.

 

And, I would like to add, as an atheist, I don't mind people praying for my salvation. That's cool. It's your thing. But do know that it is insulting to me. I don't "pray" for you to change your belief system. I would ask you do the same. I don't know if my parents pray for me. If they do, they don't share that information with me. I see my dad wavering a bit to my side of things. That "good" and "kind" are what counts. Not the church you belong to. I have seen righteous people do foul things and I have seen heathens do incredible things. It's the person the counts. It's the actions that speak.

 

S.J., glad I could give you a little ray of sunshine. Hang in there. It gets easier. ;)

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Has anyone here changed denominations or religions and had an uncomfortable fall out with family or friends? How did you tell them? Did your relationships change?

 

....

 

If you are religious how would you feel if a close friend, family member, or one of your children changed religions? How would you feel if they hid it from you to escape conflict?

 

This is a fascinating thread!

 

My husband and I came from somewhat lukewarm Christian families and turned into "homeschooling, non-TV-watching Jesus freaks" along the way. At age 45 my husband ditched a career to go to seminary and (we hope) into ministry. So as far as some family members are concerned, we are totally whacked out.

 

It has not always been easy. But, we were just always honest about our unconventional ways. Actually, it is only my in-laws who seem not to completely approve of us; they are about the most conventional people I've ever met. My siblings really don't care; my parents have been gone for a while but I'm pretty sure my mother would be accepting of whatever we did.

 

It would be hard for me to accept my children converting to a nonChristian religion or becoming atheists. I can't deny that. I believe and hope I would continue to love them, support them and welcome them in my life. I am pretty sure I would pray fervently for them. But, I think that's about all I could do. I surely would not want them to pretend to be someone they are not. (Sorry for the pronoun agreement problems I'm having tonight.) That must be a terrible way to live.

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Tammy, What if their opinions and feelings forever fracture your relationship? What if their reaction is hateful? I can hardly let anyone treat me or my family that way. Why wouldn't I want my MIL to be ok with who we are, maybe not agree, but be ok? Perhaps I am misunderstanding you here.

 

Seems to me you have a few different things included here, so let's try to sort them out individually.

 

1.Opinions and feelings. Unless parties require everyone to be one the same page, or at least close to it, there is no way for opinions and feelings to fracture a relationship (whether that fracture need be forever is a different issue). As it happens, I have lots of friends who have lots of different opinions than myself (and each other) on various issues, but we don't allow that to fracture our relationship.

 

2.How people treat you. Now, there is a place where you have some real claim. Even in a position of serious disagreement, no one has the right to treat you badly (disagreeing with you, BTW, or disapproving of your opinions/decisions is not, in itself, treating you badly). We are all deserving of having our human dignity respected.

 

3.Reaction. For the purposes of separating it from #2, we'll call it the long-term reaction, not the immediate, OMG-are you kidding, badly handled reaction that is understandable (not ok, just understandable). You can expect in these situation the possibility of a bad immediate reaction. We hope not, but it's possible, and we can all offer each other the grace of forgiveness after the fact (assuming the person has regained their senses and is sorry for the bad reaction). Any "hateful" reaction after the initial surprise, falls under #2 - "hateful" is just a brand of treating a person badly. Not ok.

 

4."Be ok with who you are". I'm really not sure what this means. If we've established that no one has the right to treat you badly, and you have stipulated that they don't need to agree, then I don't know what "be ok with who you are" means. I personally don't like the phrase "being ok" because it's extremely vague and open to interpretation. It can sound a lot like a demand for approval. And really, while we all crave it, no one has the right to demand approval from anyone. Your ILs can no more approve of your being an atheist than you can approve of them being Christian (which, logically, you could be nuetral on, but you couldn't approve of as an atheist, any more than you could approve of a grown man believing in the tooth fairy).

 

I hope that helps clarify what I meant. If I got something mixed up in what you meant, I apologize and please let me know.:grouphug:

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.. Where I think it's possible for things to go wrong (and I've seen this happen with lots of things besides divergent religious views) is when a person starts demanding, or wheedling (I swear, when people wheedle, it doesn't make me want to give them what they want, it just makes me want to punch them), for my approval on the topic. ... ..

 

I think that the posters here were seeking only others' respect, not approval.

 

As for wheedling folks, that probably could be stopped with a "My silence is out of respect for you. Do not confuse my silence for approval of your actions."

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This sounds so hard. And it's all so unnecessary. :(

 

I hope when you do put yourself out there you'll instantly find a few moms who are going along with the status quo out of desperation but are really a lot like you.

 

I am hiding my religious views in my new town. From what I can tell, it is overwhelmingly Christian. I am used to a diverse city where you never make assumptions about others' beliefs. The one time i was involved in a predominantly Christian group i kept my mouth shut and hoped they would grow to like me before they found out.

 

In my new to, I joined a public school's homeschool charter program, and on the organization's Facebook page there are lots of invitations to Christian events. I thought that was odd, since the group is not affiliated with any religion. One of the members started a mom's support group and I went to a meeting, hoping to meet some friends, but within minutes it was clear that it was really for Christians. "We are not educating for Harvard; we are educating for heaven." Every topic was brought back to what Jesus Christ calls us to do. I didn't that've anything to contribute.

 

I don't have a problem having religious friends, but I resent the assumption that I believe what they believe. No one asked me if I was interested in artending a Christian group. No one asked if I was Christian before they began speaking for me. But i knew that outing myself would not go over well, especially after the discussion about how "we" Christians are called to be role models for non-Christians, and how incredible it is that schools can get away with their liberal agenda. One of the moms talked about how she really preferred her kids to not just play with kids from their church, but really just the homeschooled kids from their church, because the public schooled kids have a differerent world view. Well, I know my atheist child would not be a welcome playmate.

 

So I won't go to another of those meetings, but I would like to find friends who aren't so focused on Jesus as the center of their life that they have nothing in common with me. I'm still not sure if I will try to fly under the radar or will be more outspoken. Part of me wants to ask point-blank "is this meeting Christian, or inclusive?" the next time a secular-sounding invitation comes up. I probably will, and let the chips fall where they may. People who judge me as not worthy based on my beliefs aren't really worth my time, anyhow.

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And, I would like to add, as an atheist, I don't mind people praying for my salvation. That's cool. It's your thing. But do know that it is insulting to me. I don't "pray" for you to change your belief system. I would ask you do the same.

 

This is really confusing. You said:

 

1.you don't mind people praying for your salvation.

 

Then

 

2.it's insulting to you

 

Then

 

3.You don't pray that they change their mind (not really comparable, since you don't believe there is anything to pray to).

 

Then

 

4.You would ask them to do the same - which is in direct contradiction to #1, the first thing that you said.

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I think that the posters here were seeking only others' respect, not approval.

 

As for wheedling folks, that probably could be stopped with a "My silence is out of respect for you. Do not confuse my silence for approval of your actions."

 

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to give the impression that I thought the OP (or others) were necessarily seeking approval. That wasn't my intention. I was only trying to highlight a way in which these things can go wrong (because I have seen it so many times).

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Dh and I never pretended with our families. My brother and sister didn't care. My dh's mother did care but decided it was just one way I corrupted her son. We left the Catholic Church and became Protestants. Even though non of her sons remained Catholics and my dh was the only one still going to church and the only believer, she was upset. My fil was another semi believer and he just never got it since he really didn't believe but considered himself Catholic.

 

Now with others, I never pretended to be anything but simply didn't speak about how we are not young earthers in some circles.

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My beliefs have changed wildly in the last five years. I don't really discuss it with anyone except ds. Dh still doesn't ask about my beliefs, he just knows I'm not in a position to want to attend any church right now.

 

With my parents, we don't really discuss. My mom, who knows all somehow, gets that I feel differently, but we don't have deep theological discussions anyway.

 

Ds and I have some very deep discussions about these things and we've discussed the "fake" thing as well. Part of the reason we're not in a church is I don't know where I fall theologically anymore and I don't want to attend church simply for the social aspect. We're in a small town and most things for teens are either through church or the school. So, the decision has isolated us from some people, but I really don't want to be inundated with the us vs. them aspect of religion vs. non-religion vs. my religion right now. I also don't want to be condemned for choices that I believe have nothing to do with religion.

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Seems to me you have a few different things included here, so let's try to sort them out individually.

 

1.Opinions and feelings. Unless parties require everyone to be one the same page, or at least close to it, there is no way for opinions and feelings to fracture a relationship (whether that fracture need be forever is a different issue). As it happens, I have lots of friends who have lots of different opinions than myself (and each other) on various issues, but we don't allow that to fracture our relationship.

 

2.How people treat you. Now, there is a place where you have some real claim. Even in a position of serious disagreement, no one has the right to treat you badly (disagreeing with you, BTW, or disapproving of your opinions/decisions is not, in itself, treating you badly). We are all deserving of having our human dignity respected.

 

3.Reaction. For the purposes of separating it from #2, we'll call it the long-term reaction, not the immediate, OMG-are you kidding, badly handled reaction that is understandable (not ok, just understandable). You can expect in these situation the possibility of a bad immediate reaction. We hope not, but it's possible, and we can all offer each other the grace of forgiveness after the fact (assuming the person has regained their senses and is sorry for the bad reaction). Any "hateful" reaction after the initial surprise, falls under #2 - "hateful" is just a brand of treating a person badly. Not ok.

 

4."Be ok with who you are". I'm really not sure what this means. If we've established that no one has the right to treat you badly, and you have stipulated that they don't need to agree, then I don't know what "be ok with who you are" means. I personally don't like the phrase "being ok" because it's extremely vague and open to interpretation. It can sound a lot like a demand for approval. And really, while we all crave it, no one has the right to demand approval from anyone. Your ILs can no more approve of your being an atheist than you can approve of them being Christian (which, logically, you could be nuetral on, but you couldn't approve of as an atheist, any more than you could approve of a grown man believing in the tooth fairy).

 

I hope that helps clarify what I meant. If I got something mixed up in what you meant, I apologize and please let me know.:grouphug:

 

Thanks for the clarification Tammy. I agree with you but with one exception. My only disagreement is that I do approve of people being Christian or any other religion they choose. Why is it impossible for an atheist to approve of someone choosing to be Christian?

Edited by SJ.
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It's insulting that you feel the need to pray for someone who doesn't hold your beliefs. I don't mind that you do so because I don't try to change your beliefs. And wouldn't even if I could. It is possible to feel 2 things at once. It is possible to find an idea insulting but not mind that it is happening. Sorry, if I'm not clear.

 

I'm withdrawing now, because if I don't, I'm gonna get myself banned. It's about that respect thing I was talking about earlier.

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This is really confusing. You said:

 

1.you don't mind people praying for your salvation.

 

Then

 

2.it's insulting to you

 

Then

 

3.You don't pray that they change their mind (not really comparable, since you don't believe there is anything to pray to).

 

Then

 

4.You would ask them to do the same - which is in direct contradiction to #1, the first thing that you said.

 

Not Kalah, but I have an atheist friend who asks me not to pray for her. I respect that decision, but I know she gets those comments. You can't really control what other people choose to do, really. Out of respect for my friend, I don't pray for her (needs, salvation, whatever).

 

I'm sure Kalah will speak for herself, but I know that it is insulting sometimes for people to assume you want to be prayed for in a certain way. I have an issue with some prayer requests anyway, but that's another topic. However, I think she is saying that you might feel insulted if she held belief in another deity and prayed to it for your salvation to that religion, basically because you already have a belief system that you're happy with.

 

posted at the same time as her.

 

Kalah :grouphug: I get what you're saying.

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Anyone who drunkenly ranted at my husband to order his family to believe as she did would entirely lose status as someone to be heeded about religion. I am so sorry you had to witness that.

 

Tibbie - she didn't rant at my husband, it was at me. I was very uncomfortable and shocked. I know I should have found a way to end the conversation but I was just so dumbfounded that I just sat there quietly.

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So that's my story. Here's something I know: If any of them had abused us (beyond criticism) or disrespected our right to freedom of religion in front of our children, or tried to convert our kids, or did some big dramatic show at Thanksgiving dinner, I would have cut them off without a second thought.

 

 

:iagree: my situation is a bit different. Dh knew I was agnostic but interested in many different religions for years pre-marriage. I even tried to convert to Catholicism but had second thoughts right before becoming pg with his child. Over the past year, I have had stronger religious beliefs and he has become cruel and rude about religion. With the way he insults it, I can't even tell him what I've been going through. He's atheist, but I don't blame that. I have nothing wrong with atheism itself. It's his attitude. Not to bash dh, but just to commiserate about me needing to be "in the closet" atm. Same with my family. But my family is so religiously diverse that everyone went out of their way not to talk religion at family get togethers. :lol: I have found that I am deeply uncomfortable discussing anything religious with my co-op. their religion is very different than mine, but I respect their beliefs. However, I am scared they would not accept mine, kwim?

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You asked "Is avoiding and not participating in religious conversations when you do not share the same views the same as lying or misleading?"

 

I don't think so at all. If people are having a polite conversation about something about which they all seem to agree, it seems odd to just interject that you disagree. If I was with a bunch of women in our HS group and they were talking about how great BJU is, I think it would be rude to announce that I hate it or even that it's not my style. But, if someone asked what I thought of it, I wouldn't hesitate to say "it's not for us." If someone thought I was being misleading by not offering my dissent, that's their own assumption, as my intention was to be polite.

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I am hiding my religious views in my new town. From what I can tell, it is overwhelmingly Christian. I am used to a diverse city where you never make assumptions about others' beliefs. The one time i was involved in a predominantly Christian group i kept my mouth shut and hoped they would grow to like me before they found out.

 

In my new to, I joined a public school's homeschool charter program, and on the organization's Facebook page there are lots of invitations to Christian events. I thought that was odd, since the group is not affiliated with any religion. One of the members started a mom's support group and I went to a meeting, hoping to meet some friends, but within minutes it was clear that it was really for Christians. "We are not educating for Harvard; we are educating for heaven." Every topic was brought back to what Jesus Christ calls us to do. I didn't that've anything to contribute.

 

I don't have a problem having religious friends, but I resent the assumption that I believe what they believe. No one asked me if I was interested in artending a Christian group. No one asked if I was Christian before they began speaking for me. But i knew that outing myself would not go over well, especially after the discussion about how "we" Christians are called to be role models for non-Christians, and how incredible it is that schools can get away with their liberal agenda. One of the moms talked about how she really preferred her kids to not just play with kids from their church, but really just the homeschooled kids from their church, because the public schooled kids have a differerent world view. Well, I know my atheist child would not be a welcome playmate.

 

So I won't go to another of those meetings, but I would like to find friends who aren't so focused on Jesus as the center of their life that they have nothing in common with me. I'm still not sure if I will try to fly under the radar or will be more outspoken. Part of me wants to ask point-blank "is this meeting Christian, or inclusive?" the next time a secular-sounding invitation comes up. I probably will, and let the chips fall where they may. People who judge me as not worthy based on my beliefs aren't really worth my time, anyhow.

 

I hope you are able to find a group of people that is more inclusive and makes you feel more comfortable. :grouphug:

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I have found that I am deeply uncomfortable discussing anything religious with my co-op. their religion is very different than mine, but I respect their beliefs. However, I am scared they would not accept mine, kwim?

 

I know exactly what you mean.

 

You asked "Is avoiding and not participating in religious conversations when you do not share the same views the same as lying or misleading?"

 

I don't think so at all. If people are having a polite conversation about something about which they all seem to agree, it seems odd to just interject that you disagree. If I was with a bunch of women in our HS group and they were talking about how great BJU is, I think it would be rude to announce that I hate it or even that it's not my style. But, if someone asked what I thought of it, I wouldn't hesitate to say "it's not for us." If someone thought I was being misleading by not offering my dissent, that's their own assumption, as my intention was to be polite.

 

I think so too.

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It took a while before I told my m-i-l that we just weren't not interested in attending Church or really any organized religion. She doesn't approve but it didn't change our relationship much. She occasionally feels the need to submit our name for a missionary visit, I have a nice chat with them and send them on their way.

 

If its parents I meet through kiddo's activities, I don't talk about religion and if its brought up I deflect and change the topic because my mom told me never to discuss religion, politics or money with acquaintances.

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Not Kalah, but I have an atheist friend who asks me not to pray for her. I respect that decision, but I know she gets those comments. You can't really control what other people choose to do, really. Out of respect for my friend, I don't pray for her (needs, salvation, whatever).

 

I'm sure Kalah will speak for herself, but I know that it is insulting sometimes for people to assume you want to be prayed for in a certain way. I have an issue with some prayer requests anyway, but that's another topic. However, I think she is saying that you might feel insulted if she held belief in another deity and prayed to it for your salvation to that religion, basically because you already have a belief system that you're happy with.

 

posted at the same time as her.

 

Kalah :grouphug: I get what you're saying.

 

As an atheist, I never had any problem with someone saying they'd pray for me, no matter their religion. I didn't believe in God, it wasn't like I thought he'd be answering their prayer for me to become Christian. And I expected tht they did so out of love for me. As a Christian, it still wouldn't bother me if someone of another religion said they'd pray for me to their god/s. Again, I would assume it was out of love for me.

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Not Kalah, but I have an atheist friend who asks me not to pray for her. I respect that decision, but I know she gets those comments. You can't really control what other people choose to do, really. Out of respect for my friend, I don't pray for her (needs, salvation, whatever).

 

I'm sure Kalah will speak for herself, but I know that it is insulting sometimes for people to assume you want to be prayed for in a certain way. I have an issue with some prayer requests anyway, but that's another topic. However, I think she is saying that you might feel insulted if she held belief in another deity and prayed to it for your salvation to that religion, basically because you already have a belief system that you're happy with.

 

posted at the same time as her.

 

Kalah :grouphug: I get what you're saying.

 

One of my friends from college, (whom I "led to the Lord" and who became a missionary in a closed country) was one of the people I told about my unbelief, when she came back to the US and asked me how my "spiritual walk" was going.

 

She asked me later, in an email, if she could pray for me. I said "fine." I didn't care how she spent her time in her personal religious pursuits, honestly. They had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with her.

 

However, she kept ending her emails with exhortations to come back to the faith and repent because I "knew it was true" and to think of my children whom I was hurting and taking down the path of destruction and how I had fallen into deception. (HA! One of the things that caused me to leave was trying to decide what was reality and what was best for my children.) I did ask her to quit that. I told her that I wanted to keep a friendship with her, but how would she take it if I kept ending my emails with "Please, give up your pathetic superstitious nonsense you know it's not true. Think of your children and the irrational upbringing you'll be giving them if you continue down this path."

 

That was pretty much the last I ever heard from her.

Edited by Ipsey
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My faith was okay with my mother until I started taking it very seriously. When we lived in a Mennonite community, she would make a few comments, but left it mostly alone. When we came back and I was still covering, she started yanking my covering off and my brother said it looked like a doo-rag and didn't like it because he said it reminded him of the "ragheads" (he was in Kuwait...yeah, that side of the family and that particular sibling have racist issues...they haven't been in our lives the past nine years. Myself and the other side of my family aren't completely "white" so :p )

 

My FIL was able to deal with us being Reformed (he's a Calvinistic SBC). However, our conversion to Orthodoxy has him not saying much. I think one reason he wants us to move close to him is so that he can influence the kids. Yeah, he's welcome to move near us, but I prefer to not move back to an area that I consider the next town over from Hell. Basically, we talk, he stays silent if any mention of church comes up.

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:iagree: my situation is a bit different. Dh knew I was agnostic but interested in many different religions for years pre-marriage. I even tried to convert to Catholicism but had second thoughts right before becoming pg with his child. Over the past year, I have had stronger religious beliefs and he has become cruel and rude about religion. With the way he insults it, I can't even tell him what I've been going through. He's atheist, but I don't blame that. I have nothing wrong with atheism itself. It's his attitude. Not to bash dh, but just to commiserate about me needing to be "in the closet" atm. Same with my family. But my family is so religiously diverse that everyone went out of their way not to talk religion at family get togethers. :lol: I have found that I am deeply uncomfortable discussing anything religious with my co-op. their religion is very different than mine, but I respect their beliefs. However, I am scared they would not accept mine, kwim?

 

:grouphug: I'm sorry.

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One of my friends from college, (whom I "led to the Lord" and became a missionary in a closed country) was one of the people I told about my unbelief, when she came back to the US and asked me how my "spiritual walk" was going.

 

She asked me later, in an email, if she could pray for me. I said "fine." I didn't care how she spent her time in her personal religious pursuits, honestly. They had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with her.

 

However, she kept ending her emails with exhortations to come back to the faith and repent because I "knew it was true" and to think of my children whom I was hurting and taking down the path of destruction and how I had fallen into deception. (HA! One of the things that caused me to leave was trying to decide what was reality and what was best for my children.) I did ask her to quit that. I told her that I wanted to keep a friendship with her, but how would she take it if I kept ending my emails with "Please, give up your pathetic superstitious nonsense you know it's not true. Think of your children and the irrational upbringing you'll be giving them if you continue down this path."

 

That was pretty much the last I ever heard from her.

 

I recently went through a similar scenario in regards to converting to Orthodoxy. I was told that I needed to beware as "it would be better for millstone to be hung around my neck and thrown into the sea, than to lead one of these little ones astray." This was in regards to my children and the path I was leading them down. I have to admit it was rather painful and left me feeling raw for a couple days.

 

Dh's brother is still an Assemblies of God Pastor, so that was awkward at first, but has nicely smoothed over since then. My mother has been very supportive.

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I recently went through a similar scenario in regards to converting to Orthodoxy. I was told that I needed to beware as "it would be better for millstone to be hung around my neck and thrown into the sea, than to lead one of these little ones astray." This was in regards to my children and the path I was leading them down. I have to admit it was rather painful and left me feeling raw for a couple days.

 

Dh's brother is still an Assemblies of God Pastor, so that was awkward at first, but has nicely smoothed over since then. My mother has been very supportive.

 

:grouphug:

That's quite scary, being threatened with Hell and worse. (especially if you came from a background that was quite serious about Hell, and where it's a worthwhile consideration/fear) I'm glad things have gotten better for you!

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Tibbie - she didn't rant at my husband, it was at me. I was very uncomfortable and shocked. I know I should have found a way to end the conversation but I was just so dumbfounded that I just sat there quietly.

 

I have a standard comment for any Christian who does such a thing: let who is without sin cast the first stone.

 

Thus far it has worked, but I haven't tried it when alcohol is involved.

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Honestly, I think the worst reactions have been online. I received a couple of not too kind pm's on FB about my conversion. I did have to delete some people. If you can't handle the conversion of someone that you've only known online (even if for years), then maybe you need some quiet time to focus on your own issues.

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You will never please everyone, even those closet to you who are supposed to love you most. So stop trying. Yes, it hurts them (which really isn't about you, it's about them), and what they say hurts you (but again, it's not really about you, it's about them) but at least no one is pretending anymore. :grouphug:

 

What you should always understand--and I struggle with this too--is that they say such things out of their love and concern.

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My faith was okay with my mother until I started taking it very seriously. When we lived in a Mennonite community, she would make a few comments, but left it mostly alone. When we came back and I was still covering, she started yanking my covering off and my brother said it looked like a doo-rag and didn't like it because he said it reminded him of the "ragheads" (he was in Kuwait...yeah, that side of the family and that particular sibling have racist issues...they haven't been in our lives the past nine years. Myself and the other side of my family aren't completely "white" so :p )

 

My FIL was able to deal with us being Reformed (he's a Calvinistic SBC). However, our conversion to Orthodoxy has him not saying much. I think one reason he wants us to move close to him is so that he can influence the kids. Yeah, he's welcome to move near us, but I prefer to not move back to an area that I consider the next town over from Hell. Basically, we talk, he stays silent if any mention of church comes up.

 

I recently went through a similar scenario in regards to converting to Orthodoxy. I was told that I needed to beware as "it would be better for millstone to be hung around my neck and thrown into the sea, than to lead one of these little ones astray." This was in regards to my children and the path I was leading them down. I have to admit it was rather painful and left me feeling raw for a couple days.

 

Dh's brother is still an Assemblies of God Pastor, so that was awkward at first, but has nicely smoothed over since then. My mother has been very supportive.

 

I'm very sorry that happened to you mommaduck and Juniper.

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I didnt change beliefs, I went a different direction in my belief and get a ton of lip over it. I wear skirts, now head covering, etc and I constantly hear all about it from my parents. (mostly mom). I couldnt imagine keeping it a secret that I switched beliefs, but I can understand why...who wants to hear about how they are dead wrong every time theres a family BBQ?

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I have a standard comment for any Christian who does such a thing: let who is without sin cast the first stone.

 

Thus far it has worked, but I haven't tried it when alcohol is involved.

 

From now on my standard is to end conversation and implement evasive maneuvers - think dive rolls and army crawls. :lol:

 

Honestly, I think the worst reactions have been online. I received a couple of not too kind pm's on FB about my conversion. I did have to delete some people. If you can't handle the conversion of someone that you've only known online (even if for years), then maybe you need some quiet time to focus on your own issues.

 

No kidding. :glare:

 

You will never please everyone, even those closet to you who are supposed to love you most. So stop trying. Yes, it hurts them (which really isn't about you, it's about them), and what they say hurts you (but again, it's not really about you, it's about them) but at least no one is pretending anymore. :grouphug:

 

What you should always understand--and I struggle with this too--is that they say such things out of their love and concern.

Beautifully put.

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I didnt change beliefs, I went a different direction in my belief and get a ton of lip over it. I wear skirts, now head covering, etc and I constantly hear all about it from my parents. (mostly mom). I couldnt imagine keeping it a secret that I switched beliefs, but I can understand why...who wants to hear about how they are dead wrong every time theres a family BBQ?

 

I imagine that gets frustrating. I don't know why anyone would care, unless they wanted to comment on your pretty skirt or headscarf.

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Is anyone here also hiding their religious beliefs not to upset family?

 

 

I think we are. DH's entire family is Baptist, but his dad doesn't attend church. I became Catholic in middle school, but my parents were not religious. Our parents either don't know we are apathetic, agnostic-leaning (at least I am, DH self-identifies as "meh."), or they know and don't care at all.

 

Extended family... is a problem. There are at least four other households of homeschoolers/future homeschoolers among our relatives. We're going to be the secular homeschooling household in a family of young-earth homeschoolers. It will become obvious in the coming years when we turn down AWANA and VBS invitations, study evolution, and decline to join Christian homeschool groups.

 

I know it might hurt certain members of his family when they find out, especially as it pertains to salvation and the afterlife and being reunited with loved ones in heaven. I know that they will continue to love us, but that we may be left out (even unintentionally) because we don't share a religion. I worry that we'll have to prove that our boys are not a bad influence simply because they are not being raised in a Christian home. Even though DH doesn't care (and I shouldn't), I don't want him to be knocked down a few rungs in the eyes of his relatives, who may be a little less proud of him and what he's accomplished, because it's all tainted by the fact that he's no longer a believer. Most of all, I don't want my children to be a mission field first, family second.

 

I especially hate the fact that I fear these reactions, even though I may be completely wrong. I love them all, but feel like I'm holding my breath and preparing for the worst.

 

Thank you for starting this thread. It's been weighing on my mind a lot the past few days.

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I especially hate the fact that I fear these reactions, even though I may be completely wrong. I love them all, but feel like I'm holding my breath and preparing for the worst.

 

Thank you for starting this thread. It's been weighing on my mind a lot the past few days.

 

That's exactly how I feel. :grouphug:

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