I come from an extremely religious family (Southern Baptist) in the heart of the Bible Belt of the United States. Just to give you some examples of what I mean by extremely religious: two of my uncles are preachers; while growing up we went to church three times a week; my father has been an usher, an elder, and sat on the church’s board since before I was born (I am now in my mid-twenties); even though I attended all of their weddings, none of my brothers and sisters attended my wedding because it was not a church wedding.
I stopped attending church as a teenager although that had more to do with the fact that as I got more and more involved in extra-curricular activities, I had less and less time for church than for any philosophical reasons. Then from the age of 17 to now, I did a lot of research into other religions and philosophies before deciding officially that I was an atheist.
The problem is, whenever I am around my family, they make me feel like a second class citizen. They look down their noses at me, shake their heads, and mutter hateful comments under their breath. Although they often wear clothing/jewelry promoting their christian belief, I have been specifically banned from wearing anything expressing pro-atheist or scientific sentiments. We have to bow our heads and pray before every meal. When we get together for holidays, which is the only time I ever see my brothers and sisters, they read from the bible and sing hymns, for instance during the Thanksgiving meal or Christmas gift-giving time. My brothers and sisters refuse to have any contact with me at all away from our parents because of my beliefs. When we do get together they will make snide comments and have religious/philosophical/moral discussions, yet I am expected to hold my tongue.
So what should I do? My current options seem to be: I either break all contact whatsoever with my entire family; I only visit my parents between holidays and continue to bow my head and pray to a god I don‘t believe in before meals but have no contact with my siblings whatsoever; or I continue to visit them on holidays and keep my mouth shut as they ridicule and insult my beliefs and worship their dead Jew on a stick.
I should tell you that I live 300 miles from my parents so visiting them for just a few hours at a time is not an option. Also, although my experiences with them and other Christians may have made me bitter, I am always respectful of other people’s beliefs when speaking to them. I should also tell you that I have always had a contentious relationship with my parents and one sister even among other things not of a religious nature although I get along well with the other siblings in non-religious matters. I love my family very much and desperately want a relationship with all of them, but how do I get them to not treat me like a pariah?
Most Helpful Guy
Howdy-do, friend. I am also an atheist in the Bible Belt. Unfortuntely, it is Nowhere, Arkansas. Let's take a look at your situation, shall we?
Your siblings have no problem having no contact with you. Why should you give them attention?
Your parents keep you around to insult you, while you can't say anything. Hypocrisy? Do as I say, not as I do? Having cake and eating it too? Can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen? They are ignorant morons. Don't be their whipping girl.
They don't approve of your marriage, spouse, or beliefs. Well, they obviously don't like you. Why do you even visit them?
I consider you lucky that you live 300 miles away. That is the perfect excuse to never, ever show up again. Ever. They probably get frustrated when they know you have to come visit. I mean, they keep it in all year and explode the insults at you when you visit. They can't hold it in for three days until you leave? Oh, wait! They obviously want you to know they hate you, otherwhise they wouldn't say it.
Listen, sister, for religious people, they don't practice what they preach. It is apparent that family isn't that big of a deal to them. I used to care about that, like you did, but now they all know that I don't give a crap about their "Jew on a stick". I don't care, they don't care, everyone is happy.
I'll have you know, friend, atheists are the number one hated minority. Christians, Muslims, whatever, they all band together to hate atheists. Even though all religions are warring with each other, they'll join together to hate the godless freaks. That's just the way it is. Screw people, screw your family, and leave. You'll sleep at night. :-)1