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Advice Needed: Dealing With Family


leori
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I recently became a deconvert (posted my testimony over on the other forum). Short story is, I cannot believe something which has absolutely no evidence whatsoever, coupled with all the lies, deception, bureaucracy, close-mindedness, and pervasive anti-science and anti-rational thought in the religion and in the church. I have told my best friends and my wife, all of whom have taken it very well.

 

However, I still have a problem. My wife and I were church shopping for a while, and during that time, my parents and my in-laws would occasionally ask, "So where are you going to church these days?" or something similar. I haven't seen my in-laws since my deconversion a few weeks ago, but I will be seeing them again soon, and there is a chance that they will once again ask about church. (If not, then my parents are bound to ask sooner or later.) Of course, I'm not going to church anymore because I'm an atheist, while my wife has started going to our old church again.

 

To give a little bit more background, both sets of parents are from very conservative Christian backgrounds. I have had very limited theological discussions with my dad, but noone else discusses religion. My wife's parents live on an old family farm way out in the country and go to church at a very small CMA church. While they are very nice people, they are awfully close-minded about things they don't understand (which would be most everything in the scientific realm). When my wife "came out" to them that she believed in evolution, they were shocked that one of their own children would think such a thing (because their pastor of course would tell them otherwise). I have no idea what kind of a response they would have if and when they find out that, not only do I not go to church, but I also don't believe in God!

 

So I'm wondering if any of you have good advice on how to prepare and how to deal with this kind of situation. I assume there are some basics, like "Don't insult them or their beliefs" and "Don't compromise your own (dis)beliefs." Anything I should make a point to bring up or avoid?

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My parents go to a CMA church too.

 

If you do intend to tell them that you no longer believe (which I think is a good thing), don't put it off too long - the more you put it off, especially if you have to tell lies to avoid talking about it, the more it becomes a big traumatic thing in your imagination.

 

Don't make it a debate - keep the focus of the conversation on the interpersonal stuff - especially as far as your in laws are concerned, that you love your wife every bit as much as before your deconversion and have no intention of letting this break apart your family. I'd also say, keep the conversation fairly brief, don't rehash things over and over. If anyone wants to argue with you, don't engage. Tell them either that the two of you can set a time to talk about it later, or that you'll email them about it. Even if you do want to explain why you don't believe, you don't want the first conversation to get off track or get too heated.

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I have told my best friends and my wife, all of whom have taken it very well.

That already makes you sort of a lucky guy.

And your wife's parents survived the "shock" from your wife believing in evolution, so I wouldn't worry too much about them. If I were in your shoes, I'd simply explain why I have difficulty believing that there is a god and then leave it at that. And ClaraOlive is right: if it gets too tense, you can always discuss it later.

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So I'm wondering if any of you have good advice on how to prepare and how to deal with this kind of situation. I assume there are some basics, like "Don't insult them or their beliefs" and "Don't compromise your own (dis)beliefs." Anything I should make a point to bring up or avoid?

leori - I guess all of this would depend on if you are ready to be perfectly honest. I find the whole 'truth-telling' to be sooooo draining on me. I really need to be in a certain frame of mind (and prepared) for this discussion on god.

 

For the last 2 years when I bump into my old christian friends and they ask me;'' W here are you going to church now?'' I lightheartedly tell them that I am taking a break from the church and then I reassure them (with a smile on my face) that me and god got something real special goin' on!

 

Seems to satisfy them for now......:shrug:

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+I like the minimal truth strategy. Tell them where the wife goes to church, and tell them you have not been going at all. It's nobody's business why. Just say you would prefer not to discuss it if that's how you feel. I haven't had to tell anyone in my family that I am an atheist, but every one of them knows it. This has been the case for almost forty years, and I can count the tense conversations on one hand.

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