So I’ve been shunned, threatened, and harassed for my logical views?

Jan 21, 2013


Discussion by: Cory Suydam
Well, first let me introduce myself. My name is Cory Suydam, im 21 years old, and am an Atheist. 

I grew up with my family being pastors and deacons of both Catholic and Christian faiths. My family got me involved with God at a very young age. only a mere year or two ago, I questioned my faith. I read every book i could about science, and watch every documentary i can about science. Everything from biology to physics. I noticed that everything is connected in some way, but not the way i was told my whole life. I took into consideration the Evidence.

I come from a part of America in small corner of Ohio where the vast majority of people are of the Christian faith. Once i became open about my belief in science and reason, problems began to take hold. My family and most of my friends condemned me to their so-called hell. I get hate mail and even threats sometimes from both people who were close to me, and people i don’t know. 

Somebody who is very close to me, but also very close to what they call god, is nearing the end of their life, and really wants me to show them i believe in their god. It is the last thing that they want. Which i never will. I have reason. But i have lots of guilt over losing somebody i love knowing they will leave unhappy with me. What do i do with this situation?

I try to explain why i do not believe in a religion, but i am called the ignorant one, and the one without reason. I am told i have no morals, and i still have time to pray etc, etc…. All of those things we all hear.

My question is, is being public with my beliefs and explaining them to other people even worth my time? Should i just lie about what i believe them to escape the abuse? What suggestions do people have for my delema? I know we are all faced with these challenges on a daily basis, but yet Atheists are the ones accused of being the ones forcing our beliefs on them and ruining their way of life. 

40 comments on “So I’ve been shunned, threatened, and harassed for my logical views?

  • 1
    DocWebster says:

    Being unhappy with you is a choice, not your problem. Don’t let anyone abuse you with guilt. The truth is the truth if nobody believes it, a lie is a lie if everyone believes it. You should stop trying to explain, it’s just going in one ear and out the other. Be comfortable with the choices you make, you have to live your life, nobody else can. That doesn’t mean you have to stay an atheist either, it just means you have to live with the choices you make. To thine own self be true, words to live by



    Report abuse

  • 2
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    I think you should move. Ever lived anywhere else? Other places are better.

    Lying about what you believe takes its toll. Consider romance and friendship. You must be honest with people to be close to them.

    Some of your concerns are too personal to advise upon, but I’ve lived in areas like you describe and having been away from them, I think you should move. Life is so much better where atheism flourishes. People are more attractive. There is more to do. There jobs in the sciences even for non-scientists. People are happier. There are fewer lynchings. People are openly gay. Some have blue hair. The music is better. Life is generally more enriching and rewarding in the absence of oppressive religion.

    It’s called the brain drain. Areas like you describe force intelligent people to leave and concentrate in other areas. This is not just concerning academic matters. Thoughtful people create a healthier society.



    Report abuse

  • I wouldn’t lie about your beliefs just to placate the outraged masses – in your situation it sounds like this takes bravery and personal strength. Fair play.
    However, the person who is close to you, if I were you I’d tell them what they want to hear. If the person is nearing the end of life and really is close to you, it doesn’t matter any more. Enjoy the time you have left together, say you believe in god and listen to what the person has to say.



    Report abuse

  • 4
    Chris Squire says:

    Re: ‘ . . of both Catholic and Christian faiths.’

    Catholics are Christians: they believe that their flavour of christianity is the only true one and that non-believers will burn in hell for ever. By ” I suppose you mean ‘southern baptist’ – a flavour which is dominant where you are but rare or unknown elsewhere. And is rapidly shrinking: you are just one of many shrinkers.

    Your choice is simple: if you wish to stay where you are you must learn to dissimulate and to conform to the minimum required – perhaps by attending church/chapel at easter and christmas and not speaking against it even if provoked.

    If not move to a city, where nobody gives a damn what you believe or do provided you keep within the law and pay your taxes.

    Either way, stop feeling sorry for yourself and take control of your destiny: you have only one life to live and every day you delay in taking control of your life is a day wasted that will not come back again.



    Report abuse

  • 5
    Chris Squire says:

    Re: ‘ . . There are fewer lynchings.’

    This is an odd thing to write: what would you regard as a normal or acceptable number of lynchings?



    Report abuse

  • The world, the stars, and the universe itself doesn’t owe you one scintilla of kindness. I’d bet even your family would agree with this. It’s unfortunate, however, that right now you can’t even expect kindness from them. Having said that, be kind to yourself.

    I’m sorry for your circumstances.

    Mike



    Report abuse

  • 7
    QuestioningKat says:

    “Somebody who is very close to me, but also very close to what they call god, is nearing the end of their life, and really wants me to show them i believe in their god.”

    You need to keep your stand and not be manipulated into their drama. If the situation comes up again, tell the person that you deeply care for him/her and you care so much that you cannot lie to their face. To agree with the person would be dishonest and not being true to yourself. This is who you are. If the person continues to try to manipulate you say,” I’m sorry you feel this way, you will need to come to terms with this in your own way. “

    Also… I hope you will continue with your education. Your improper use of lower case “i” has me concerned. Education provides many opportunities and could provide a way out of your family’s history and influence.



    Report abuse

  • 8
    LJofSpades says:

    In reply to #5 by Chris Squire:

    Re: ‘ . . There are fewer lynchings.’

    This is an odd thing to write: what would you regard as a normal or acceptable number of lynchings?

    They’re being drily facetious.



    Report abuse

  • 9
    crookedshoes says:

    cory,
    I am always stunned by the behavior of people who have faith towards people who do not have faith. The issue, as I see it, boils down to this:

    Ask whichever one of these people is bothering you if they think of their faith as a gift. Then ask them, if you do not have the same gift, why they would hate you or look down on you? Shouldn’t they, based on their own (hypocritical obviously bullshit) teachings, see that you are to be pitied or helped???

    I cannot switch places with you to know how much this ABUSE is wearing on you. Therefore, I am hesitant to offer you advice on the future. However, I will impart to you a phrase that I heard over and over again from my father growing up: “Get better friends”.

    I know it isn’t easy, but, dragging yourself down through all this heavy bullshit is counter productive and must be a pretty big strain. Let it go and turn your attention to bigger and better things. You have people here to commiserate with; wash all the negativity out of your hair and realize that these people are toxic.



    Report abuse

  • 11
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    In reply to #9 by LJofSpades:

    In reply to #5 by Chris Squire:

    Re: ‘ . . There are fewer lynchings.’

    This is an odd thing to write: what would you regard as a normal or acceptable number of lynchings?

    They’re being drily facetious.

    No, not really. I recalled the gay and trans lynchings that were common where I once lived, and how there has only been a handful in the SF Bay Area in recent years. It’s an improvement over other areas. It’s like rape, completely terrible and tragically normal. Sadly, moving to an area such as I recommend does not spare one of all these problems that root in religion, but at least people get outraged about it in more civilized areas.



    Report abuse

  • You have turned a new page in your life and its going to be a bumpy road for a while. However, be yourself and let nothing sway you from your path. If the area where you live is heavily populated with church going people and it presents possible physical danger to you, do move elsewhere. If you think you can handle the pressure, stay and stand your ground. You don’t have to be vocal about your belief or make others think you are rubbing atheism in their face. Just be yourself and remember deeds always speak louder than words. Being a black sheep in a herd is not that bad. You stand out. You are an individual and you don’t have to worry about the pastor using a long wooden stick with a hook to pull you into line.



    Report abuse

  • 13
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    I still see I’m coming across as glib, and I moved too quickly over how this is a problem of religion. I’ll clarify as it gets to the OP’s point about geography.

    “Gay Panic” defense makes it legal to murder gay people. The premise is temporary insanity, triggered by knowledge that someone is gay. The success of this defense depends on region, as the jury is asked if such a response is normal. Can they sympathize, can a good person suddenly turn into a murderer with that as the reason? While homophobia and misogyny exist outside religion and are merely exacerbated by religious dogmas, it does play a key role in the violence that comes out of the social momentum.

    For instance, in the ‘red states’. I have often heard people say they would kill a gay person, as if they were mythological creatures. That goes by without comment. If such a thing were uttered where I live now, the objection would be inconsolable. Children are taught it is okay to be violent towards gays. The zeal of religion and devotion to absurd beliefs prime people to sympathize with and commit atrocities. In the event of a lynching, there are often people who stand by doing nothing, sanctioning the act through omission of action. Multiple people turn into murderers, which should be statistically improbable, yet it is common when there are social mores supporting such a thing.

    It’s been more than a decade since a racial lynching occurred in the US (David Byrd Jr). When they were common there was also wide and virulent support for racist attitudes. Politicians ran openly on racist platforms. Now, if a politician is overheard uttering something that may be construed as racist, it can end their career. Politicians now get elected to oppose gay-rights, democratic initiatives ban gay-marriage, and gay and trans people get lynched quite a bit (last I was current, there was at least a murder every month in the US). The success of prosecutions for such acts is regional.

    The same holds true for violent crimes against women. In an area where a man is more likely to get away with such acts, what do you suppose the quality of conversation is? In areas where people are afraid to be themselves or voice themselves, what is there to do on a Saturday night? How likely is it one will see a person with blue hair?



    Report abuse

  • Hello,

    I’m somewhat in a similar situation. My wife and I were Catholics, we are no longer believers, but our families don’t know about it. Luckily, we moved to a country which is very secular. Occasionally we go back home and attend churches to keep things the way they are with the families. We thought it would be okay if we keep it this way, since we’re an ocean apart. But since our children were born, we’re worried that we might be unconsciously teaching our children about keeping quite and not speaking their mind if we continue down this path. I don’t see anyway out, but to speak the truth. Between our children and keeping the relationships with families back home, I would die before seeing my children grow up to be cowards. Mere hate mails, words abuses and even exiles are really not that bad in my case.



    Report abuse

  • 15
    Satyagrahi says:

    I tend to believe that if one is living in a society, be it the community in which on lives, the national society, or the world society, one has a duty to the society to express one’s deeply held views so that society benefits from those views and becomes better. Those who have truly found reason and science to be the right reins for their outlook and the dependeable basis for conducting their lives need to show why this is superior than adhering to religious dictats and procedures for living. One could use arguments like this for example: why should one pray? Praying demonstrates a loss of faith in one’s own ability to influence ones life’s course. Such arguments need to be used to counter those who persecute atheists for their views. One should not let allow oneself to be bullied into silence. One should voice one’s opinions in a pacifist manner, but fight to prevent one’s rights to freedom of thought and expression from being eroded. We humans have a voice. We should use it in a good positive manner. Promoting atheism is a good thing. Only individuals with conviction can do so. So my advice to you is to get your arguments right and work towards the emancipation of humanity through promoting science and reason as the rational basis for living.



    Report abuse

  • There are a few reason I started following this website, and one of them is because I had the same experiences that you are having right now, only they are some 30 years back. Seems nothing changes when it comes to what happens when families get broken up as a result of differences in religious beliefs.

    Using blackmail to scare you into going back, and trying to leave you with guilt feelings about your own ideas and what you stand for is about the only weapons they have to try and manipulate you back into their world. Tragic, and it happens over and over and over and over …

    I ended up moving a ocean away. I seems to me that your family is very zealous about what they believe, and in some respect living a life in absolute fear of doing anything wrong. I can imagine that one of your family members spends a great deal of time preaching at home, and the from morning till night. This kind of involvement isn’t healthy and results in some very difficult situations happening. I could imagine that a good portion of your family live in fear of this person. Not physical violence, but a constant verbal violence or abuse. I got this so often I built natural ear plugs into my head. Problem is that even that doesn’t always help.

    In the end there isn’t any really good advice anyone can give you to stop the pain of watching your family be destroyed by these kind of extreme beliefs. But rest assured your not alone, and you can write your thoughts and ideas here, and find new strength in knowing you will survive, live a full life, and be free of all those crazy ideas that only lead to unhappiness.

    You can try to think yourself into their minds and why they tick the way they do, but you’ll never find the answer, so live life for yourself to the fullest. Get out their, enjoy and don’t look back, it won’t ever look different.



    Report abuse

  • 17
    brainsys says:

    My advice is that you and your neighbouring Christians have more in common than you both think. I refer to the internal strength to hang on to what you believe no matter how uncomfortable it becomes. Nobody beats the Christian Martyrs in that department.

    The trick is to get them to respect your views, your moraility, your wish to do good – even if they are sure you are going about it the wrong way. And actually the same applies to you in reverse. Easier to say than to do. But in this context seeking to convert them or even argue the cause is likely to be counterproductive.

    No you need to hit them where it really hurts by being all that they should deem to be a good christian. Turning cheeks, being strong but modest, trying to lead a good life and treating your enemies as your friends. Good christian virtues. Except they are also just good human virtues. Eventually the penny may drop.



    Report abuse

  • 18
    Simon Tuffen says:

    Try to ask your friends and relatives why they think that BELIEF in their particular god is the most important thing you can have, and why not believing in that god makes you immoral.

    Surely the most important thing is to be a good person, and if there is a god that is worthy of any respect it would surely be one that only cared about how you behaved, and couldn’t care less about whether or not you believed in it.

    Another thing you might also ask is what is this “god” that you’re supposed to believe in anyway? I don’t mean ask for a list of things it has supposedly done – I mean what actually is it? If they can’t explain what it actually is, how can you even know what to believe in, or whether or not you are believing in the same thing – or whether or not they are all believing in the same thing?



    Report abuse

  • 19
    FreeXinker says:

    In reply to #19 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

    Try to ask your friends and relatives why they think that BELIEF in their particular god is the most important thing you can have, and why not believing in that god makes you immoral.

    Surely the most important thing is to be a good person, and if there is a god that is worthy of any respect it would surely be one that only cared about how you behaved, and couldn’t care less about whether or not you believed in it.

    Another thing you might also ask is what is this “god” that you’re supposed to believe in anyway? I don’t mean ask for a list of things it has supposedly done – I mean what actually is it? If they can’t explain what it actually is, how can you even know what to believe in, or whether or not you are believing in the same thing – or whether or not they are all believing in the same thing?

    Ask christians why you should believe in their god!

    Yes, do this if you want to get an earache.



    Report abuse

  • 20
    Scrivener says:

    You have four choices :

    1. Stay and Fight
    2. Stay and Hide
    3. Stay and Lie
    4. Flee

    Nobody can tell you what the correct course of action is. All of your options carry risk. The most painful one is the very real possibility of a total break with your family and all of the people you know. Being an open atheist in rural America puts one in a very difficult position. It is doubtful that you’ll be able to change many minds in your corner of Ohio. There is a reason that many of the most liberal, tolerant places in the USA are the large cities and the coasts. That is where so many of the refugees from the South and Midwest fled to.

    I lived in Columbus, Ohio for nine years and my job with a state environmental agency often took me to southern and eastern Ohio. Being from the San Francisco Bay area it was like entering another world. I became well aware of the brand of conservative protestantism that you must have grown up in. It is every bit as stifling and closed minded as anything that exists in the Deep South. In Columbus I also met many free thinkers, liberals, gays, etc. from those parts of Ohio as well as Kentucky who had moved to the large city for work and to enjoy the freedom the more open urban society afforded. I am not advising you to move, but I know what I would do if I were in your shoes. You are young and life is too short to spend it being unhappy.



    Report abuse

  • 21
    tardisride says:

    Hi Cory,

    I’m sorry to hear that people close to you have been so harsh. You know, while I would never openly advocate for leaving one’s family in the dust, it sounds like you might benefit from relationships with people who either share your world view or are capable of caring about you and respecting you even if they don’t. This is one of the unfortunate side effects of religion: some Christians will be the ones who look at you in sadness and say they’ll pray for you, and some think that by nagging, browbeating, and threatening you they will somehow be more persuasive. The way to fight nonsense is to say your piece and walk away in peace.



    Report abuse

  • 22
    hrpanjwani says:

    While I have not been in your exact situation, maybe my example will help. I live in Mumbai, India; am 28; have been an atheist since I was 15 and my family is largely Hindu; one aunt of mine is married into a Muslim family while a cousin is married into a Catholic family.

    Most of my family is vegetarian; my aunt remains vegetarian even after 20 years of marriage and my cousin’s husband decided to become a vegetarian at home, he eats meat outside home on occasion. But I eat meat as I like it, even at home. Initially I got a lot of grief over this from my family but I stayed firm on this: you do what you like, I do what I like.

    With religion I did the same thing. I never bought it up first. But if someone did bring it up I stayed firm on my beliefs and usually things ended with them saying too much freedom and education ruined me while I argued that it saved me.

    When I was 22, I moved away for education to a city thats 5 hours away and came back home just once every 4 or 5 weeks for a weekend. There was little time for discussions on food or religion.

    Then at 25, I went to the US for 3 years and came back once a year for 3 weeks or so. No time for arguments on food or religion. I have been back home for 6 months now and they accept me as I am.

    My family still shakes their head sometimes over my choices (just as I do over theirs) but I think time and distance gave us perspective to realize which things are truly important and which are not.

    So I think that moving may help you, but in any case stay firm on what you believe in. Do not compromise your beliefs for a misplaced sense of love, respect or loyalty. All of these should be mutual to some degree and all of them have to be earned. Good luck to you. Cheers.



    Report abuse

  • 23
    papa lazaru says:

    Well, you’re between a rock and a hard place, for sure. I can’t relate too much to your position though, like many of us I guess who live in the UK, France, Germany or Northern Europe.

    For one, I would start cataloging all that abuse though (phone recordings, emails, ect…). A nice big steaming pile that you can show around before your close relatives start extolling the virtues of the community and accusing you of a lack of ‘moral fiber’. And I suppose pointing to the fact that they would rather put religion and beliefs before friendship / kinship. I always found that weird.

    And if your local police department isn’t completely useless, they should be interested in the more vigorous threats (death threats?) as well. Death threats should be no joke, and whoever would be making them should be made aware of their consequences.

    As for the normal stuff in life, I’d just avoid direct confrontation, which tends to exacerbate things.Makes you more ‘the enemy’. However, if it’s a civil discussion, it should be pretty easy picking for you.



    Report abuse

  • 24
    Dublin-atheist says:

    Heigh Cory, sorry your losing someone close. it must be difficult what with your family being pastors and deacons, I myself was brought up a catholic by that I mean I did the communion and confirmation thing. My folks would send me to mass on Sunday, I think that was to get my bro and I out of the house I don’t remember my parents actually going them self,like you I was very inquisitive regarding the natural world, the universe the more I read the more interesting every thing around me seemed, we are very lucky we live in an age where we can prove how we got here that every living thing on earth is part if a huge family tree DNA testing shows this to be TRUE. i myself work with ppl who happen to be very religious and put a lot of business my way, if I was to tell them I am an atheist they might stop putting work my way I could go out of business.how many American presidents would you say were atheists? How many claimed they were? I don’t think any. Its a lot easier for some to admit they are atheist than others you need to act accordingly Richard Dawkins for example makes a good living by telling people he is an atheist not the case for you and i. As for the person close to you that’s a guilt trip if ever i heard one tell that person you do believe if it makes them feel better you don’t need to mean it.



    Report abuse

  • 25
    Simon Tuffen says:

    In reply to #20 by FreeXinker:

    Ask christians why you should believe in their god!

    Yes, do this if you want to get an earache.

    That’s interesting, because in my whole life nobody has ever provided me with a single sentence in an attempt to explain why BELIEF in god is the most important consideration of a religion like Christianity. If there were a god, why on earth would it judge anyone on whether or not they believed in its existence, given that it ought to be intelligent enough to grasp that it is invisible, inaudible, intangible, etc to humans?



    Report abuse

  • 26
    OHooligan says:

    Many excellent and interesting answers here, I hope you find some help from them.

    On the “someone close” who is nearing life’s end, I can understand you want to be kind. I can’t think of anything kinder than to explain that you have lost your faith but not your morality and so you don’t want to lie about it, but nobody knows what the future holds, so if they want to pray that their god will find you and restore your faith some day, that’s ok. In other words, leave them wiggle-room, without denying your own integrity. Good luck.



    Report abuse

  • 27
    papa lazaru says:

    In reply to #26 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

    In reply to #20 by FreeXinker:

    Ask christians why you should believe in their god!

    Yes, do this if you want to get an earache.

    That’s interesting, because in my whole life nobody has ever provided me with a single sentence in an attempt to explain why BELIEF in god is the most important consideration of a religion like Christianity. If there were a god, why on earth would it judge anyone on whether or not they believed in its existence, given that it ought to be intelligent enough to grasp that it is invisible, inaudible, intangible, etc to humans?

    Absolute belief in something intangible being the number one requirement for getting into the good books of his Majesty sounds like some weird mind control from the bronze-age. Some form of power play from the ‘people in the know’. Hence, man-made sky daddy to keep the plebs in line. Any Deity worth his salt would not need such ridicule means to assert its authority.

    And here comes the logical cop-outs ‘it’s to test your faith’, ‘he moves in mysterious ways’. Yeah, I bet he does.



    Report abuse

  • 28
    hellosnackbar says:

    Tell them truthfully that hate for your disbelief is a serious sin!
    (Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour)
    They can’t provide a scintilla of evidence to prove you wrong and they should seriously think about their corrupt morality.
    A little bit of counter proselytisation helps to close their nasty gobs.



    Report abuse

  • 29
    hellosnackbar says:

    In reply to #29 by hellosnackbar:

    Tell them truthfully that hate for your disbelief is a serious sin!
    (Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour)
    They can’t provide a scintilla of evidence to prove you wrong and they should seriously think about their corrupt morality.
    A little bit of counter proselytisation helps to close their nasty gobs.
    As an addendum get them to listen to the gifted well known atheists who have gathered momentum in recent years (there’s hours on YouTube) and then get them to debate.
    There belief in Christianity has no more validity than belief in imaginary Allah and malevolent Mo.



    Report abuse

  • 30
    John WW says:

    Judge people by their actions Cory just because you live in a little corner of Ohio dominated by ignorance and superstition does not mean you have to participate.
    As another comment says log all this hate mail and threats it may come in handy one day, be your self my friend and you will go far without the shackles of religion.



    Report abuse

  • 31
    ArmchairCat says:

    Would you be satisfied knowing that the last chance you had with this loved was built upon a lie? If you are a deconvert from religion, it is because you have a deep respect for, and are searching for, truth. In their own way, the faithful, too, are committed to what they believe is truth.

    What you tell this person is your choice. I can only suggest you consider what the real values you and this person share are. My condolences.



    Report abuse

  • 32
    BornAfterTV says:

    If someone is on their death bed, moments from death and you have only very recently just broken to the news to the wider family then just lie to that person, ignorance is bliss and there is no time to educate nor explain. As for anyone else that has a little time on there hands then I think you’re dilemma is effectively one of weighting if you’re family will accept it or not; if they do then ask are you willing to expect the effort and if they are not going to accept it then are you will to lie.



    Report abuse

  • You can tell Religious Ohioans that you are a true truth seeker, because that’s who, at least, most atheists are, and show some interest in their views as if they hold water. Occasionally, throw in the phrase “there is no evidence for this”, but don’t attempt to deny that what they are saying is true. When asked about your beliefs, it helps to be confusing and ambiguous in your responses. Be manipulative and fluid. Make them look like idiots, if you can. That’s how I survived among the most fierce and conservative religious zealots.



    Report abuse

  • 34
    Al Denelsbeck says:

    Insofar as to what you yourself should do, that depends on what you’re comfortable with. Atheism itself is simply a standpoint, one that’s solely personal. It doesn’t involve recruiting others or trying to change anything. However, you might feel better if you’re actively trying to counteract the abuses the religion gets up to so often, but that’s your own decision.

    If so, bear in mind that it’s a long road, and can be discouraging. It can take a while to know how to present arguments that hit home most effectively. As one example, every time someone is the least bit abusive to you about your standpoint, you can ask what it is they’re so afraid of. Seems to me that people confident in how things work don’t get all emotional when others disagree – that’s the domain of the insecure.

    Concerning the person nearing the end of their life, it’s hard for anyone not involved to suggest how you should approach this. You might simply ask if they believe god has a plan – if so, what then are they concerned about? We so often get to hear how tragic and horrible events were ‘necessary,’ so how does a mere atheist merit so much handwringing? You’re just there to test others 😉

    [Yes, this is a variation of Pascal’s Wager, but with the loving god everyone wants to believe in, not the vengeful god that they use to try and scare others.]

    A common tactic is to put you on the defensive, trying to get you to think you have reason to feel ashamed or wrong. In such cases, your biggest weapon is knowing how to invert this, martial arts of the debate. Little things like getting them to define ‘good,’ which virtually requires them to either admit it’s about treating others, or try to support the asinine ‘good in your heart’ aspect so many religious folk are fond of. Religion utterly fails without privilege, though no one ever wants to admit this, so this is always a fun topic to bring up. Eventually, even if they won’t agree with you, they’ll realize that trying to change you hurts them more than you, and stop trying. Even better, you may just plant the seed of doubt that grows – be patient.

    Good luck!



    Report abuse

  • 35
    Matrix7 says:

    Hello Cory,

    It seems to me that you have gone on a journey from religious inculcation to self-determined atheism. So I reckon you should be very confident in your beliefs (or perhaps I should say non-beliefs). Since you have reached the conclusion that there is no god through your own reasoning, you can at least be confident that your belief will not be shaken by any manner of tribulation.

    You should feel no guilt whatsoever about the situation you find yourself in. Far better to be honest than to admit falsely to a belief. You could always explain that your friend’s god would see through such a deception (if he existed and held the powers attributed to him), and you would rather live with a clear conscience.

    And you can’t be accused of foisting atheism, as a belief, on others. How do you force a non-belief on others in the first place? All they are doing is expressing their own fears, which are a result of their own lack of confidence in their beliefs. Their abuse and hostility is simply a manifestation of their problems, not yours.



    Report abuse

  • 36
    FrankfurterAnimus says:

    Hello Cory,

    I decide to share or don’t share my atheism on a case-to-case basis, after I used to be indiscriminately open about the subject. I discussed the matter with my Catholic family for instance, the same was true for debates with strangers. In both cases, the failure of my listeners to grasp my arguments intellectually turned me away from them.
    I choose my audience wisely now – and take care of finding people, who add value to these talks about unbelief and religion…. to my great satisfaction I wish to add.
    However, I’m mindful of representing the secular worldview whenever I feel obliged to. Religions were given enough free-passes over the centuries and being a “New Atheist” compels the individual to speak up at the right time in my judgement.

    Concerning your writing about the dying relative/ friend: her/his request is blackmail. Someone who is really close to you, wouldn’t put you in a dilemma like this.

    My well wishings for handling this delecate situation; only you can manoeuver the process to a hopefully peaceful ending. Reason may guide you.



    Report abuse

  • Matt Dillahunty makes a good point (linked at the end of this post) about how those of us who can come out as atheists should. I don’t know where you fall on that continuum, but I don’t believe lying to everyone is going to improve your life. I don’t think you are feeling sorry for yourself; this is legitimately difficult for you in ways that it isn’t for others. I live in greater Seattle and it’s a non-issue here in many ways. I feel a responsibility to be vocal about it. You may want to find a happy medium or just move. (I used to live in Utah. Boy did I move.) If you choose to lie to comfort a dying person you love, I wouldn’t let it fester or anything. That person is in a sad and desperate way to need such a thing, and it may be the compassionate thing to lie to them (you could also tell them the sky was purple, and it would be just as absurd and damaging — that is, none at all to a person about to return to stardust (who said that? Tyson?). If it feels truly intuitively wrong, don’t do it). I understand your dilemma is difficult. Stay “out” if you can.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzlZVHPJ5n4



    Report abuse

  • 38
    FKHansen says:

    I commend you for your courage and standing your ground. But this is your life, and I doubt that any post on this forum is going to solve your problems. However, you have to ask yourself if you would be happy to play a charade for the rest of your life, or if you are willing to pay the price of standing your ground.

    I don’t know where you live, but I hope that there are like-minded people around, who can help you build new friendships. Remember that no one can walk their entire life alone. You will need support. I surely hope that there is someone in your family you can talk to, or a perhaps good friend…

    Personally I don’t think you should move, but then again, I’m, not in your shoes.



    Report abuse

  • 39
    Guptanator says:

    Wow that is a tough predicament. I wouldn’t lie about being an atheist but the part about the person close to you, that is a tough descision. Under no condition should they be forcing you to believe in their religion. Be an example of how moral an atheist can be because your actions will show your true character regardless of your allegiances. Be a good example. What kind of abuse are you going through because I don’t think you should lie if it’s minimal but then again I am not in your situation. Good luck.



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.