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How did your parents deal with your apostacy?


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Since my early teens, I've walked on eggshells around my parents when it comes to religion. When I was younger it was mainly to avoid preaching/guilt/hassle, but as I got older, I began to avoid certain topics of conversation mainly so I wouldn't put undue stress on the oldfolks. I just didn't want to worry them- I figured that what they didn't know wouldn't hurt them. We practice a 'don't ask/don't tell' policy. This has resulted in a situation where I don't know them very well personally, and they don't know me at all. All I know about their beliefs and worldview is basic Wesleyan (holy-roller) doctrine. I have no idea WHY they believe the way the do, or what their personal opinions are on most matters (I just assume it's a standard fundamentalist view, but I know that's not always the case). Likewise, they don't know me at all. They don't know WHY I don't believe in god- I'm not sure they even admit to themselves that I DON'T. They don't know about my formative years, including how I learned to lie, cheat, steal, smoke, drink, reason, cuss, fornicate, fight, and blaspheme. The act that I put on when I talk to them isn't ME, and Wesleyan doctrine isn't THEM.

 

So I'm considering pointing out the elephant in the room. I don't want to realize years from now that I COULD'VE known my parents, but essentially chose not to just to keep the peace. It seems to me that I don't have much to lose. My relationship with them right now is pretty superficial- I talk to dad about working on cars, and maybe exchange a few stories about work. I talk to mom about relatives and work... that's about it. I moved out of their place 10 years ago, and I live about 1000 miles away,so it's not like I'm dependent on them or anything. What do ya'll think the chances are that any good could come of this?

 

I have two brothers, and we're all atheists (or pretty damn close). My folks are also willfully ignorant of my brothers' apostacy. This will really stir the pot. My brothers can handle this (though they might bitch about it), but it's my parents I worry about. Am I being selfish by disturbing their blissful ignorance? I don't intend to drop the A-bomb on them. I'm not ashamed at all of being an atheist, but that particular label carrys a lot of unwarranted(and downright false) baggage among fundamentalists- there's no need to use it. I reckon I'll just tell 'em I don't believe in any god, and leave it at that.

 

I'd especially like to hear from anybody who has been in a similar situation. Do you have any regrets? Would you have done anything differntly? How did things turn out?

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your in the exact same situation I am.

By the way the big denominational belief that seperates Wesleyism from all others is this doctrine of Sanctification, which means a christian can be saved but still go to hell, unless they become Sanctified and Justified, or Holy; Free from Sin... and the more conservative Weslians live the Holiness Lifestyle, which is a cultish brand of rules and regulations.. no music, no Tv, no cutting of the hair, no jewlery, no pants for the woman.. it kind of interesting that most of the rules apply to the woman only ( thanks to Paul)

If you google the Weslian University, youll find they have a online library with a few thousand books.. If you search " holiness" youll find some ROTFL essays from the 1950's about worldy living vs. holiness lifstyle.

Can you imagine being around a group of christians who are convinced they never sin?

 

It was worse than your typical Fundy environment.

 

I never met a group of people so miserable and judgemental.

 

 

 

Anyway

One day when I was stoned off my ass and felt like being honest

 

I made the mistake of mailing my parents a ten page academic type paper outlining all the biblical contradictions and so forth.

I never said in the letter I was atheist, just that I couldnt consider myself a christian anymore. That was ten years ago and they never talked about it with me until the past few years my step father has gone into screaming fits, and now we havent spoken for a year or so and told him I will not talk to him unless its with a couselor . He is so irrational he now thinks I am a Muslim, after I tried to explain the concept of Circular reasoning ( The Koran must be the Word of gOd, because the Koran also claims to be Gods Word) So I gave up on that, because he also wont even let me say anything. He interupts everytime I say something, and then "rebukes" me. because he thinks the Devil is speaking thru me.

honestly, its that bad, and was the last straw for me, I haven spoken since.

If I could do it over agian, I would never have let my parents know I left Christianity. I would lie to thier face if I had to .

 

 

my mom is scared to death of talking to me.

whenever she mentions christianity, she wants to convince me that GOd performed a supernatural event evey time she finds a good parking spot or a good deal on a air conditioner. I just say, " thats cool" and on to the next subject.

 

Sad to say all this deconverting stuff, has resulted in my parents basically demonizing me and in so many ways they have disowned me, at least emotionaly, cuz they only live a few miles away, but have only been to my house I think 3 times in 9 years. and those 3 times were because of the grand daughters bitrthday, and they left ASAP. the last few years they wont even show up at my daughter birthday party. One year we chose to have her birthday on Halloween ( because her B-day is so close to Halloween. they never showed up and instead mailed us a book about how satanic Halloween is) plus everyone has Halloween night off, since nobody from my family celebrates halloween anyways, we thought it was the perfect night for a birthday party.

It was honestly probably the most depressing day of my life

because my 8 year old daughter was so excited to have her birthday party, and we spent money on all the decorations and food, exspecting 9 people from my family to come.

one by one, my 3 sisters, parents, 3 nieces and nefews and brother in law, all called to give an excuse why they could'nt come to my daughters birthday party. My sister chewed me out for " celebrateing" Halloween My daughter cried.

No one showed up, and ever since then I gave up on my christian family. And havent put any effort in maintaining relations with them since.

 

I used to stop by the house once a month to say hi to my mom, while my step father would leave and lock himself in another room.

The past year I stopped doing that, because I can no longer think about the situtation without getting angry. To end on a funny note, I wear a hat that looks like a turban, when I stop by my parents, because I find it so absurd my father thinks I am muslim.

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My father is dead (not from the shock), and my mother won't discuss it - she seems to have been in denial since I told her about four years ago.

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I had the opposite problem..I tried to convert my mother and very nearly lost the relationship with her. My father had died a few months after my conversion to christianity, but I lived in another state so it was not a factor.

 

It is so sad that families get torn apart by this bullshit. I've seen it often. Disown the apostate. Yeah, that's gonna bring 'em back.

 

BBA-I feel so bad for your daughter..and your family doing that is unimaginable!

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unchained, I have one suggestion: if you do decide to bring this stuff up with them, that you take care to start the whole thing by telling them how much you love them and want to get to know them better. Go into that and keep coming back to it. Let the topic be love, caring and family rather than religion.

 

You might simply keep it to asking them questions about themselves, rather than volunteering information about yourself. Keep it on them; what do they really believe? Why? Do they have any struggles believing any particular doctrines, etc.?

 

This way, you can get to know them better and bring into your relationship with them the experience of having an open discussion. You don't necessarily have to get everything out in the open in the first talk. But you can use the first talk to establish that indeed, you and they can have a talk about things that aren't superficial without feelings getting hurt and so on.

 

Just a suggestion.

 

Loren

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I'm pretty sure my parents think it is

 

#1: "Cute" just like they thought my feministic tendencies were "cute"

 

#2: A phase

 

#3: not really an issue, since they are, at most, armchair christians.

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I think my dad suspects I am an atheist because he asked me if I believed in God and I didn't pay attention and he and my mom almost went crazy and I lied and said I do believe just to play along. I don't think i will ever tell them I am atheist.

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My dad has never been religious. We didn't go to church as a family when I was growing up. My Mom was raised in the United Methodist church.

They are active in the church now. My dad goes just because my mom goes.

A couple years ago I asked my dad some religious questions, trying to bring the conversation around to my deconversion (I had been the only fundy of the family). During our brief talk, he said he didn't really believe in any god.

I doubt I would ever bring it up with mom. I wouldn't want to cause her any distress.

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It is unfortunate that the Christian mindset requires that parents have a responsibility to instill the same beliefs in their children that they have. This mindset seems to “spill-over” into every area of life. When my mother would ask me how I felt about anything, she would end the sentence with, “don’t you think so?” If I disagreed with her about the most mundane things, she would cry, “I don’t know why you come all the way here just to upset me!” From her perspective, she failed as a mother if I did not adopt every single one of her prejudices.

 

To avoid a scene, I either lied to her or avoided any controversial topic. I loved my mother dearly, but she had no clue as to who I was. My father was quite the opposite and though we disagreed on my issues, we respected each others opinion and our love for each other seemed much deeper to me.

 

If I ever have kids, I hope I never get into the habit of telling them what to think. Do you ever hear parents starting a sentence with this, “WE believe……….” Disgusting! :nono:

 

IBF

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My mom once told me she wishes I had never stepped foot in a church, so I don't think she would mind.

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They seem to be dealing with it rather well, although my stepmom still thinks that going to church is "good for you," as if it were the same thing as eating your fruits and veggies and getting enough exercise.

 

Sigh...I can see it now:

 

*New from P&G, the multi-vitamin Church pill! Not going to Sunday services enough? Not getting enough of the Holy Spirit? This tiny little pill has it all: a drop of holy water, a tiny bit of communion wine & wafer, and more than enough Jesus juice to keep you going all week long. Just $99.99 + shipping and handling. And we'll even throw in a free KJV Bible! There's no such thing as too many Bibles."

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My mother and grandmother believe the Bible is the literal word of God and the way to heaven is through Jesus. My grandmother is pretty tolerant, though. She believes that love comes before anything and I don't think she'd love me any less if I told her I left Christianity.

 

But she's 65 years old and worries about anything bad happening to me. She's also taking care of one of her daughters who's mentally ill, which puts a lot of stress on her already. Plus, I'm more her daughter than granddaughter so we have a pretty tight bond and I'm afraid if I tell her, it would be just another thing for her to worry about and I don't want to put that on her.

 

Now, my mother is the one I'd never tell unless it were absolutely necessary. She just recently started practicing religion more and my telling her may cause her to believe I'm, at best, a "backslider" or at worst, evil and a bad influence on my siblings. Not only would our relationship be strained, I could lose contact with my 7 year-old brother also. The same thing happened with my father and his kids concerning Jehovah's Witnesses and I am not going through that again.

 

Besides, this is my philosophy concerning the whole thing. My folks have already raised me and I'm out of the nest now. There's plenty of personal stuff I don't discuss with them because as an adult, that's no longer their business. Just as I wouldn't tell them the sordid details about my sex life, I have no obligation to have my inner life as an open book. And frankly, they feel the same way about discussing all their business with me.

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I hear where you're coming from, it's a tough subject to broach. I basically never told my parents. My father died last year and was sick for a while. I am pretty sure he wouldn't have dealt well with it and I didn't want to cause him any additional stress. I live with my mother now as she is 76 and has a handful of health issues. Not much point in getting into a pissing contest over beliefs with my mom, it won't do either of us any good. Basically I think she knows, but niether of us wants to bring it up.

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Ugh, I debated responding to this topic for a couple reasons. First, my experience is certainly atypical and shouldn't be 'expected.' Second, I've told a couple of parts so many times that I think I'll get whipped if I keep repeating them. :lmao:

 

I waited seven or eight years before I decided to tell my mother. I decided to tell her when I turned 21. I did not rely on my mother for most things but I happened to be out of my home state, staying with my aunt when my birthday fell. So, I was 1200 miles away from anyone I knew, who could offer support, and staying in a house filled with two full families of fundies. Yep, common sense would tell anyone that this was a bad time to bring the subject up; but, since when did I care about common sense? I have a habit of throwing myself into the confusion when I should probably avoid it.

 

I literally got out, "Mom, I don't believe in God exactly like you do..." before the shit hit the fan. From that point on, for the next few weeks, I never got a word in edgewise. For all she knew, I could have just decided to change churches. To make a long story short... I was dragged to a "re-education camp" where the pressure was kept on me 24/7. I barely slept, wasn't eating much if anything most days, and did my best to give them hell by ignoring as many of their rules as I could -- which wasn't that impressive because the complete rejection by my family took a lot of the fight out of me. I was so beat up near the end that I was in full emotional collapse. And as much as I wanted to give these people what they wanted to hear... I couldn't. Finally, I decided it was easier to just fake belief than deal with that forever... so I went back into the closet. Once I decided to pretend again, no one ever said a word to challenge that. They all wanted to believe so badly.

 

It was almost three years before my mom finally broke down her own denial. She called me at work, nearly giving me a nervous breakdown. That was partially posted here when it happened. I think it's been reposted in the Testimonies room (here). Now, it varies how she reacts.

 

Some days she doesn't say anything... other days she says stuff which I can't even repeat here. The funnier stuff is usually when she talks about me killing her for the anti-christ... or stuff like that. Sometimes she just goes on and on about how she is a complete failure as a parent and how she would rather have me be sucking cock for crack money as long as I believed in Jesus. (Okay, she doesn't say sucking cock for crack money... but it's clearly implied). She has no son... I am nothing to her... etc. Lots of really fun stuff. Much of it, I ignore and some is so harsh I care not to recall it.

 

So... coming out, in my experience, was a living hell. Of course, now that I am out I refuse to play along with her anymore. I can firmly state what I think and not lie about it. For example, she keeps trying to hook me up with fundie girls (I'm sorry... they aren't women as long as they live in fantasy) and I have been able to repeatedly point out to her that I would never marry a Christian. It's nice to be able to put that bluntly instead of trying to find a lame excuse for each. I can point out that I am not looking for a church nor will I ever look for one. Basically, I am allowed to be up-front with her. In the past I would need to constantly surround myself with little white lies to keep up appearences.

 

Christianity has irreparably damaged my relationship with my mother... my being open to her just makes it obvious to both of us.

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They have re-education camps for backsliders? Wow... could you tell me more about that? I fear my mother in law will send my husband.... :(

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They have re-education camps for backsliders?  Wow... could you tell me more about that?  I fear my mother in law will send my husband.... :(

 

Again, this is my experience... I expect other camps vary. This camp tried to do most of it covertly. I have heard of other camps which exist down here (in Florida) to help convert people. But that was only in whispers... actually at least one must exist because the camp I was at has a location down here as well. The camps are kindof like the cult-deprogrammers except you have a ton of people around you working on you constantly.

 

They don't call them re-education camps at least not that I have seen. This one was listed under your typical Christian camps. The way it is done, is they have like 95% believers there -- who really are there for a Jesus camp type shit -- and they (the couselors, et al.) are told who the non-believers are. To keep them seperate and surrounded by fundies. The "counselors" were the only people aware of my non-belief... as far as I knew. I only knew they were working on other non-believers because I overheard two of the counselors discussing "us." Being unaware of others going through it actually plays a role in making you feel even more alone -- of course.

 

They keep constant pressure on you... the participate in everything and conform. They pull you aside a lot to talk about God... they keep you on your toes. It's a lot of subtle and some overt stuff. Your only time alone is the few hours you have at night... and I wasn't sleeping then as I found that sneaking out and taking long walks helped more than sleep with dealing with everything.

 

It's hard to really describe what they do... they just keep you under constant stress and they make it very clear that you could be having as much fun as everyone around you if you would only believe. Huge conformity vibes going on. Couple church services everyday... fairly strict dress code (which I refused to obey... you needed closed toed shoes and they considered it a miracle if they could get flip-flops on me for more than two minutes at a time).

 

Basically, they constantly work you... the counselors tag-team so you never get a break. They always are talking to you about Jesus-this or God-that. And you have no one around who you can trust. I don't even know if I can describe the real torment so that people understand. I did give them a lot of hell... a LOT. Mainly because it's my personality. I insisted on being explicitely told if their rule forbidding beastiality only applied during camp hours, on camp property, or if I was supposed to follow it even if I managed to get into town. I had 4-5 decks of cards confiscated and destroyed. I even managed to break a counselor to the point that I never saw him again... he finally broke and said, "Fine, don't wear the sandles but put them on before another counselor sees you." I don't know who ratted him out but that was the last time he was around me. I guess giving even one inch is a violation of their terms. :HaHa:

 

It was a living hell... for how-ever many non-believers there were there. The rest of the people looked like they were having fun. From my understanding, I was also one of the oldest they had dealt with. They usually deal with the teen age ranges.

 

This same camp also has a bible college that my sister and my cousin both attended later. They (the counselors not my family) tried very hard to sign me up for it but I refused to sign their codes of conduct. It was a horrible, horrible place. But I highly doubt your mother in law can get your husband to one of the things. I was dragged there against my will and it only succeeded because I was out of my element.

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I did give them a lot of hell... a LOT. Mainly because it's my personality. I insisted on being explicitely told if their rule forbidding beastiality only applied during camp hours, on camp property, or if I was supposed to follow it even if I managed to get into town.
LOL. That's awesome. I doubt I'd have had the nerve to do that under those circumstances, or that I'd have been quick enough to think it up in the first place.

 

And they had a rule forbidding beastiality? How strange. I mean, was it really that much of a problem that they had to make a special rule?

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And they had a rule forbidding beastiality?  How strange.  I mean, was it really that much of a problem that they had to make a special rule?

 

Yes, they actually had that rule listed out with a scriptural reference. I wondered the same thing. This camp also forbid co-ed dancing, going to the movies, etc. Kind of a little fundie crazy -- but fundie crazy is the best kind of crazy. :grin:

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Thanks for all the replies and advice. I guess I'm still making up my mind. I've been in the closet for at least 15 years now (it's hard to define exactly when I no longer considered myself a christian), so I don't guess there's any hurry.

 

Bornagain- Good to know there are other ex-wesleyans around. I agree with your assessment of that bunch- I've met groups that are more judgemental, but I don't know if I've met a more miserable bunch than Wesleyans. In a way, I'm thankful that I was raised to be a crazy-ass Wesleyan, 'cause there's a chance I could still be stuck in a bible-cult if I'd been raised in some less impossible denomination (like Baptist?). When I was a kid and still trying to believe, I was really disturbed by the idea that I would ALWAYS be in danger of going to hell. Not really an issue nowadays of course.

 

Bornagain and EricF have damn near scared me back into the closet. My situation is different of course- I think it's relatively easy for a fundy parent to disown one apostate kid when there are a few other kids keeping the faith. In my case though, I only have two brothers, and they're just as hellbound as I am... though possibly less willing to discuss it. Also, my dad is the more hardcore christian parent, and he had a decent relationship with his atheist sister.

 

Loren, I like your suggestion. While my lack of GodFaith is the elephant in the room that nobody talks about, it's not really the main issue that I'm concerned about. I suppose I could just ask any fool thing that I come up with and let the chips fall where they may, but not make my lack of faith the main focus of the conversation. Thing is, it WILL come up. Maybe I can soften the blow by asking lots of questions and planting the seed of doubt in my salvation before I make the big announcement.

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Bornagain and EricF have damn near scared me back into the closet.

 

lol, don't say that! There's good to being open and honest with the people around you. My relationship with my mother was destroyed but it never existed while it was built around a lie. It's very unlikely that you will have a similar experience. You may have to deal with constant hassling... but I'm sure you can handle it. :grin:

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