How to come out to your religiously fundamentalist family and freinds about not believing in God?

Jenny - posted on 02/18/2012 ( 59 moms have responded )

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Ok, so this is not really a debate. But i like the versatility of mothers that are in this forum and would like to hear what you all have to say.



I would especially like to hear from anyone who has gone through this themselves.



Both my side of the family and my husband's side, as well all our friends believe in God and practice religion. Over the last few years I've become Agnostic and am finding it more difficult to listen to their religious beliefs and them assuming that I agree with them.



Its a very delicate situation and mostly I feel like it would be best to just shut my mouth and pretend that I still believe because this is not an issue that either of my parents would let lie.

However it is becoming increasingly difficult and I find myself wondering if it would be easier if they knew?



However, I fear the following reactions amongst many more:



Rejection

Lectures

Disapproval

Judgment

Distancing of relationships

Lack of respect for my choice

Being ostracised by my parents from my siblings that still live at home

My parents taking things personal and getting offended

Being stuck in circular arguments where the bottom line for them will be "Why do you want to end up in hell?" but its like "I don't believe we can really know if there is a hell or not" "But how can you not know, when its written in the Bible" "I don't really believe everything the bible says is true" "But how can you not believe the word of God" "I think that there may not be a God" "But how could there not be a God? Who do you think created you?" ARGHhhh... im going crazy imagining the conversations!



I wonder if its worth all the pain and anger that it could cause?



Any advice for me? Maybe I'm just not ready and should wait until I'm more comfortable with how to handel the situations that could come up.

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Jenny - posted on 02/24/2012

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Frankly I'm sick and tired of these archaic belief systems tearing apart families and putting unreasonable expectations on others.



Honestly I would keep wearing the necklace and fighting for my right for respect of MY beliefs too. If they feel you are already going to hell for the ring, you can't go more for a necklace. The necklace has meaning for you and that should be respected. I agree with what some others have said about finding new daycare and getting out of the inlaws property. Hopefully once you have that independance you will feel more empowered. Your mother is going to have to learn that you are your person and religious beliefs do not trump that.

Jenny - posted on 02/24/2012

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I have not been on COM for a couple days and I am so thankful to have so many replies giving me different views and thoughts to consider.



Some really good points about how the cat will come out the bag some way or another, esp. if my kid doesn't know who Jesus is and sings about Rudolf on Christmas day. That made me laugh :)



Someone asked about challenging my mum about how she can be so sure that she's 100% correct? I've asked her about this and her reasoning is, God said so in the Bible, and has confirmed it through the Holy Spirit who speaks to her. It does not matter that the Holy Spirit may say something different to someone else. She's certain that she is very in tune with the Holy Spirit and if it came down to the other party being equally convinced through the Holy Spirit in a different direction, then to her that will mean that the other person may not actually be hearing/or listening to the Holy Spirit. Does that make sense?



Someone else made a comment I need to clarify. At the moment we are attending Sunday Service Church once a week. Its a delicate situation where my FIL is the Pastor and as we are currently renting his property we don't have much choice but to go or leave the property. (We are buillding our house, it will be up within 6 months). My parents know we go there so don't have any concerns. I guess the questions will start flying once we move into our house and no longer go....Fun times ahead!



" I've always found that it is never me that feels out of place in such situations that it is usually me that makes Christians uncomfortable just by believing something different." That's a clever observation, and I agree :)



Someone made a point in regards to expecting a smoker to respect her right to keep her house a smoke-free zone by not smoking if they come over.



I would like to point out however, that smoking is harmful to our health and well being and I feel that it's only in the last two decades or so that people's attitudes have changed towards smoking. Maybe if you asked your friends and family to not smoke in your house some 30 odd years ago, the request may not have been responded to with the same consideration. Given societies' educated view on the dangers of smoking and the legislations prohibiting smoking in certain public venues, it is understandable that over time Smokers have learned to respect the rights of a non-smokers.



However wearing Jewlery around her is not going to expose her to health issues, and spritually if I go to hell, well, I'm not taking her with me.



As for the vegetarian friend, although I agree that I would not except my vegetarian friend to prepare me a meat option if I were to visit for dinner, if she was having a party in her home (with men attending!! ;)) and she had only prepared vegetarian dishes, I would think she is being a bit inconsiderate of the differing guests diet preferences.



To put it another way, if I had a vegetarian friend come over to my place for dinner, would I not prepare her a vegetarian option to my dish in order to accommodate to her diet preference? Or would I expect her to eat the meat dish like the rest of us because she should respect my beliefs while in my house? What's the respectful thing to do in that situation, and why?







Back to NOT WEARING JEWLLERY IN HER HOUSE AS A SIGN OF RESPECT TO MY MOTHER.



I was a little surprised that I did not get the support on wearing Jewellery to my mother's house that I thought I might get. However, you all put your point across so respectfully that I do not take offense and I am truly moved to thought by all the comments relating to this issue.



At first my reaction upon hearing these new thoughts was that maybe it is something worth doing for the sake of the relationship. To keep peace. Maybe I can do this thing? Maybe it will show them respect and then in return give me the right to assert my right for respect from them when they cross boundaries. I think that is a point worthy of consideration.



I know jewellery seems like such a little issue, but after living with my parents and having no choice but to obey their rules and restrictions it is difficult to give them back that control over what I wear.



HERE'S AN EXAMPLE OF WHY I THINK TAKING OFF MY JEWLERY FOR MY PARENTS CAN BE A BIT OF A RIDICULOUS REQUEST.



I have some sisters-in-law who are all still very Christian but have broken away from the fundamentalist restrictions and also wear jewellery. They believe in respecting their parent's beliefs and don't wear jewellery around them.



A couple of months ago we celebrated one of the SIL's 30th birthdays at a restaurant. It was a surprise birthday party and she did not know who would be there. She came in wearing a necklace that her husband had given her as a birthday present. She didn't think nothing of it until she saw her mum. She went "oh crap, mum's here, i need to take this off", turned around and frantically took the necklace off so that her mum wouldn't catch her with it.



I don't know what it is, but that did not seem right to me, that a grown woman has to be paranoid of what her Mother will say or do if she catches her out wearing jewllery.





SOME BACKGROUND INFO ON THE TYPE OF JEWLERY I WEAR AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE TO ME:



I wear a wedding band around my parents and they do not expect me to take this off, although it has taken them years to get around to being this accepting of it. They used to make regular negative comments about it whenever I came over, but now, 6 years later they never mention the ring.



I've spoken to my Mother about this and she says that it is okay to wear it because it's my symbol of marriage and that although she does not agree, she understands why I wear it. Obviously this is not how she thought 6 years ago so I guess I just proved to myself that she can still change!



However, for some reason she does not see the same reasoning with any other peice of jewellery.



The first time I wore jewellery (aside from my wedding ring) to my parents house was last year when my husband bought us matching His-Hers necklaces for our anniversary. This was to

a)signify our love for each other and

b)to signify that we as a couple, after much deliberation, decided that we are okay with wearing jewellery.

To me, still a Christian back then, I literally "believed" in wearing jewellery. It's a belief to me because prior to that belief I believed that if I were to wear jewellery, this would somehow jeopardise my salvation. I guess me and my SIL's could call ourselves the "Jewlery-wearing Penticostal Christians" denomination because that's how much of a big deal it was in our Pentecostal church and how much of a seperation it would cause. I hope that makes sense even though it is a illogical concept to begin with.



This was the first necklace I wore around them and my parents were very difficult about it. I continued to wear it around them despite them not wanting me to, because it signified to me that I have broken away from those constricting chains and also, having my husband on my side meant a lot to me and gave me courage.



However, my parents would do things to drive me mad whenever I wore my necklace around them. They would pull on it, to imitate chocking me, and would try to undo it from around my neck while I would try to pull away. They would say things like "Off with this stupidity. Why would you want to be bound up like this? Why are you chaining yourself, how is this freedom? Don't you get that this is what it will be like in hell?"



As a result I stopped wearing it around them for a while because I thought maybe it's not worth putting up with all that, especially since I don't really care about the jewellery part itself, its was more about being able to wear it as a gift my husband gave me in remembrance of our anniversary, and also it was a way of trying to get my point across that I'm no longer under their rule and am not bound to their laws and restrictions.



About 3 months later I decided on a whim to wear it around them again, because why should I be afraid to wear a necklace my husband gave to me as a gift? I thought that maybe if I wore it every time I went over they will getting used to it like they did the wedding ring. It's something that I would like to wear on me every day, something sweet to remind me of my husband.



My parents were quite distraught and said "I don't get it, I thought you had changed? I thought you knew that you shouldn't wear this. How can you be wearing it again?"



This is one of the reasons why I still choose to wear it around them. I don't want them to somehow think that I've changed back and now agree with their twisted beliefs. I also know that if they hear from someone else that saw me wearing it, then that would upset them too.



So I guess to me this is not so much about the "jewellery" itself as it is about having a relationship with them where I am not just pretending to be who they want me to be, but instead one where both parties can learn to respect each other as adults. I want them to learn to let go of the hold they think they can have over my beliefs.



Yes it is their house, but it's my body that I'm putting the jewlery on.

Johnny - posted on 02/19/2012

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I would agree with you 100% Tam. I can think of very few things I ban from my home (your smoking example is one), but I do agree with your perspective.



I was just trying to discern whether people have different standards for spiritual practices as opposed to non-spiritual ones.



I struggle very much with the concept that things external from spiritual/religious beliefs/practices are less important and deserving of respect than things that are of that realm. Since the question is being asked by an agnostic, I think it is important to recognize that.her feelings about the situation are no less important because they may not have a religious basis.



I am not saying that is what anyone said, I am just seeking clarification.



Like I said, there are pieces of jewelry that I will not remove for anyone else's reasoning. Not simply because it is a hassle but because they are important and meaningful to me, to an extent that anyone else requesting their removal for anything other than a medical reason would be showing me too much disrespect to be considered.



We all do things we do not want to do in family relationships, or else we would not have family relationships. However, I am a strong believer that respect is a two-way street. I think Mary's examples are very good, because it is really vital to recognize what are and are not deal-breakers for oneself. And Jenny, I think that is going to have to be something to consider. When does your need to be truthful about yourself outweigh your need to keep the peace? That is entirely personal.

Krista - posted on 02/18/2012

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Yikes. Poor you. That's one heck of a situation. I can totally understand why you no longer want to "go along to get along" and falsely represent who you are.



But yeah...by "coming out" as agnostic, you ARE opening up a big ol' can of worms, I'm afraid.



I think that the least offensive way to phrase it would probably be to say that you're exploring your spirituality, and that while the faith you grew up with gave you a good foundation, it just doesn't ring true for you anymore, and that in your heart, you don't think that ANY of us really have all of the answers -- that the answers are impossible to know. Tell them that you respect their faith, and will not question it or give them a hard time about it, but that you hope that they will love and respect you enough to not give you a hard time about the fact that "faith" is no longer part of your spiritual makeup.



That's my take on it, anyway. But I think you'd be better served by getting answers from the ladies on here who ARE faithful, as they'd be better able to advise on how to firmly set those boundaries while not offending.

Mary - posted on 02/19/2012

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I think Tam makes a great point. If I were to go to a friend or family member's house for dinner who is a vegetarian, I would not expect them to serve me meat, nor would I bring my own. I may think that their views on food were silly, unsubstantiated, or whatever - but I would not disrespect them by forcing a confrontation on the issue. We all have a right to think and believe what we will, but a considerate person will do their best not to unnecessarily flaunt their opposition in someone else's face.



As ridiculous as the jewelry thing seems to many of us, I agree with Tam that the considerate and respectful thing to do is not wear it in their home. A big part of earning parental respect is treating them with such. It does not mean you are submitting or agreeing with their views. It is not a compromise of your own beliefs or thoughts. It also does not mean that you can't do whatever you want to when not in their home, or not in their presence.



This doesn't guarantee that they will turn around and automatically respect you and your beliefs. Parents, more so than any others in our life, have a hard time letting go of the authority they possessed over you as a child. Most of us can attest to the fact that even as grown adults, our parents feel that they know best, and feel it is still their duty and right to share their wisdom. You cannot control their response - you can only control how you treat them.



IMO, the best chance at maintaining civility and harmony is to do your best to not intentionally antagonize them. It's not so much a question of hiding who you are, but rather not shoving it in their face. There is still a really good probability that they will react in anger and hurt at your rejection of something they hold so dear. However, if you can refrain from being too confrontational about it, and convey that you still love and respect them despite your opposite views, you at least allow for the possibility of some level of acceptance on their part. They are never going to "like" or approve of it - but hopefully they love you and your children enough to learn to live with it without animosity and acrimony.



I do, however, think you need to figure out a different daycare arrangement before you even consider any level of honesty with them about this.

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Jenny - posted on 05/19/2012

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My mum claims he's been like that since hes been in an accident about 8 years ago. Hes on some kinds of secret medication that they wont talk to me about for his issues which are never clearly explained as to what they are and apparently this medication along with the side effects from the accident are what cause him to have anger issues.

So that part makes me feel guilty. What if he cant help it.

Shoot, that just made me realise how little I actually know a) about what exactly happened in that accident as it happend when i was a kid and b) what are the current implications.
I think it may be a conversation worth having to find out these answers.

Sorry to hear bout your situation. It would be hard not to have your mum to turn to for babysitting. I had a someone in my extended family refuse her mother in law visitation rights to her child and now over ten years later during which things got worse and then started turning around, they have a lovely trusting relationship with the in-laws. So it is worth what you are doing, and vice versa for me.

[deleted account]

oh hey what's up, i already commented...

as for not being able to visit, don't stress about it. if there's one thing you should know from having a religious family, it's that this too shall pass. haha.

i'm currently in a situation where i'm not letting my parents see my daughter because i feel my mother abused her (not like beat her but she was neglectful) while they had her this last time. so they definitely will not be watching her for an extended period of time for a long time, if they ever get to watch her. it's going to be a while before i visit, too.

for your dad to get pissed because you called him out on his aggressive behaviors is entirely hypocritical and honestly, you're probably better off without him. i hope things work out for your sister, and maybe she can get out of that situation as well, but in the meantime try not to worry yourself because he's not worth it. no abusive relationship is worth it.

[deleted account]

:( it's not worth it.

however, i can usually shut just about everyone up when i tell them i hate religion and can't stand to talk about it. yeah, i take the easy way out, but hey, i'm not lying to them either.

Jenny - posted on 05/04/2012

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Thanks Karla :) Stressful times. I'm not going to try take her out for outings anytime soon, pretty sure that wont be allowed. Hopefully things will cool down in a month or so and hope fully I can take her out. She messages me on face book, so far she is doing okay. I know, very dysfunctional. Hoping for things to change.

Karla - posted on 05/04/2012

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Hey Jenny, I hope they allow you to take your sister on outings so you at least keep in touch with her.

Sorry about your dad, that can't be good. Physically violent but he wants you to pray with him, that sounds so hypocritical and dysfunctional. I hope your sister is okay.

Jenny - posted on 05/03/2012

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Well i've just been told not to visit anymore, not because i told them I dont believe in God, but because i've made a report to Child Services about dad being physically violent towards my younger sister. That got Dad very mad and he asked me not to come over anymore unless i want to pray with them, but nothing else.

What do I do? Do I go over there and agree to pray with him so that I can go visit? Or should I just cut my losses and let be.

(I have now finished work so at least I am no longer dependent on them for baby sitting.)

Jenny - posted on 02/24/2012

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I want to specifically thank Jonny for the comment "I think the consideration you are giving to others in life is very evident in your posts (always has been) and you deserve the same."



That was such a nice thing to hear!



I'm not always so considerate, and sometimes I wonder if there is any point. Getting comments like this makes it all worthwhile. It affirms my belief in extending respect to others to make them feel validated, in a hope to encourage the same in return.

Jenny - posted on 02/24/2012

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Good one Jaime, made me smile :)



Tam, it took me a while to think of it, but once I realised that you probably assuemed she expects everyone to take of their jewellery in their home, the point you came from made more sense.



You make a point about ur desire to challengs ourselves and others and grow is probably not as instincual as theirs. I totally agree.



Thank you. I will stick it out :)

Tam - posted on 02/24/2012

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Jenny, based on that last entry of yours, my only advice is to somehow stick it out. You said the situation is temporary, right?



It does seem hypocritical, almost, that she expects rules to be followed by some people in her home, but not others. I assumed she had that standard for anyone coming into her home, so my apologies for that.



Sadly, with our parents' generation, I've noticed how hard it is to try and change their minds. We have grown up with this idea that challenging the status quo is part of life, and many people don't like that quality in others. Hell, just look at Congress.

Jenny - posted on 02/24/2012

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I can't wait to move out! I'm sure its why its driving me insane.



One thing I thought about last night and want to share.



I understand if you have some rules in your house and everybody that comes over has to obey them. However with my Parents its only Me and their children that have to not wear jewellery at their house. They are not to the point that they would make other people not wear it because it's their house. This rule is only extended to family.



My mum has a lot of trouble understanding how I could possibly believe any different to her when she brought me up with her beliefs. She really cannot understand this. I try to explain that as an adult I now question the things I was tought at home and come up with my own conclusions. However she just does not believe it!

She believes in the principle of "The apple does not fall far from the tree." Of in the bible verse that says "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit."

Discussing any topic with my mum is so impossible because she does not allow for any other view what so ever when it comes from me.

[deleted account]

Jenny, you said something about your house will be finished in the next 6 months, right? If so, just try to keep things cool until then so that you can get away and not have to depend on them. That's what my husband and I have had to do. Not because of religion, but other things. We now live an hour away from everyone and thankfully, the issues that came up when we lived in the same area are forgotten if they visit since our families usually just want to see and talk about our daughter.



As for them saying they're just joking, maybe you could politely explain that you don't appreciate jokes of that sort and would like for them to refrain using their sense of humor, haha.

Tam - posted on 02/24/2012

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I haven't, but I will soon, I think. I'm sitting here on bedrest and going batshit insane because of boredom. That gives me something to do for an hour or two at least. Thanks!



Oh, and sorry to derail the conversation (I think.)

Mother - posted on 02/24/2012

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Tam, I love the simple life of the Amish and the Mennonites. Have you ever seen the documentary?? It's on Netflix. It's a wee dated but all in all...FANTASTIC!!

Tam - posted on 02/24/2012

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You know, as non-religious as I am, I think that I like the Amish the most.



Seriously. Like you said, they take most of the Bible literally. They are, to me, probably the most successful in terms of 'practice what you preach'. That, and they tend to practice the one thing that their religion is constantly saying throughout the New Testament - Do not judge.



And they make some wicked awesome carpentry and stuff. You just gotta respect someone who can say that they can live in complete autonomy, and back it up in practice.

Jenny - posted on 02/24/2012

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Jaime Young, I feel that way too, about religion, that at the end of the day it's just what people think, and those thoughts end up being put up on a pedestal, above other equally logical thoughts. That's my personal experience.



I second you on the tattoo argument, that's something I looked into also. Jewellery is only considered as bad if it has symbols that are sacrilegious to God, or if they are worn ostentainiously to make other people feel less significant.



Trust me, I was not happy with the way they got in my space about it. But they said they were joking. Its unfortunate that their jokes are often at the expense of someone else's decency.



Which Religion Ban's Jewellery?

Well, my parents are Pentecostal Christians, but not all Pentecostals ban jewellery, however they are European and have taken on the traditions that were in place in their country back 40 years ago and still try to keep them here in Australia. And even in my parents Church there are the fanatics, and there are some who are not so pedantic. Unfortunately my parents are quite fanatical, to the point that a lot of their beliefs line up with the Amish. I kind of the don't mind the Amish, because at least they are taking almost all of the bible literally, where as my parents allow something's, i.e wearing two different materials in their clothing fabric. I think that's because of the Christian part of it, where they rely on the holy spirit to guide them and not just the rules of the Old Testament. But that's where it seems to me like they just make up their own rules to be quite frank about it.



One thing that really bugs me about this whole issue is that one of the reason my parents don't agree with Jewellery, make up etc is that they think it will pull you away from God. They've heard lots of stories where people started allowing certain things like jewellery in their lives and then ended up turning their back against God.



I HATE the thought that I'm going to prove them right. It will just strengthen their resolve in this matter, and they will certainly be even more vigil with my younger sisters to ensure that they do not stray away too. Ironically the thing that has pulled me away from God is the Bible and studding it and all these ridiculous issues. To find out that no, the Bible does not condone wearing jewellery, pants, make up, drinking wine, working on Sunday; was a real blow. How is it possible that these people have made up a religion out of what seems like thin air? But my parents will never see it that way, and will believe with certainty that it's because I started doing these things that I drifted from God. *Big Sigh*





Someone mentioned about making gradual changes instead of breaking it to them suddenly, like ripping off a bandaid. I think this is the best approach when it comes to my family and our situation. Thank you everyone for all your input and support!

Mother - posted on 02/24/2012

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Well...*chuckling*....my family is full of meanies too!! *winks*

[deleted account]

Family or not, to get up in someone's personal space against their will and harass them is disrespectful, too, so I would be responding in kind. I wouldn't just up and say that without being provoked though, lol. As for age, I'm 22, and I get it from my great grandma, who in her 20s gut-punched a military official in response to him saying she wouldn't do anything if he slapped her. we're all a bunch of meanies, lol.



what i have said is ONLY what i personally would do in this situation were it to ever happen to me, and it should never be taken as advice for what someone else should do! just to clarify, lol.

Mother - posted on 02/24/2012

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Hmmm.....well, I wouldn't get all snotty. I certainly wouldn't ell my Mother to suck it up. LOL I would never disrespect her like that. I just wouldn't say anything unless someone made mention of it. I would then just explain it was my body my decision. How old are you Jaime?? You sound like a real firecracker!! LOL

[deleted account]

Kelly, i was going to get my ears pierced regardless of what he thought, but it was nice to know that no, the bible doesn't ban jewelry or tattoos. he ended up getting upset later because i didn't like his religion, nor did i ban alcohol in my house, so we did not work out. xD



also, as much as i despise religion as far as actual practice, i do like learning about the different kinds so it was good research. and now i have a real reason for disagreeing with those who believe in banning jewelry, lol.

[deleted account]

if i were in the situation, and wearing jewelry was "bad" around my parents, i'd tell them to suck it up and back off, getting up in my personal space like that. it makes my blood boil just thinking about it. but i can't stand anyone touching me or getting in my space, so this is just what i would end up doing in such a situation.

Mother - posted on 02/24/2012

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Wow....so nice of you to check that out before getting your ears pierced. You're certainly nicer then me. My body....my decision. PERIOD. If it offends you....don't look at it.

[deleted account]

oh, and that crap with them pulling on your necklace and everything is called harassment, it's a violation of your rights and, at least in the US, is illegal. anything they do to you that is without your consent, i.e. pulling on your necklace, choking you, telling you that's what it's like in hell, that's all forms of harassment and i seriously doubt God is okay with anger and hatred like that toward another human being.

[deleted account]

omg as for the jewelry ban, hahahahaha



it says in the BIBLE that you can wear jewelry. in fact, it encourages it, especially if you use it to glorify God. another thing, tattoos are NOT forbidden, as so many Christians i have known try to say. the only tattoos that are forbidden are ones honoring the dead. i think this information is in Leviticus or one of the other early books in the Old Testament. i may look it up again if someone disagrees.



i know about this because i checked it out before i pierced my ears. i wasn't sure if my boyfriend at the time practiced a religion that banned earrings and my parents requested that i look it up first. they didn't care either way, but the guy seemed antsy about it until we looked it up. we didn't last very long, haha.



what religion totally bans jewelry? out of curiosity?

Mother - posted on 02/24/2012

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Sweetie.....religion is man made. don't feel bad....you seem like a level headed girl. You'll figure out what's right for you and NO ONE can figure that out FOR YOU!!

[deleted account]

plus, it seems like whenever God speaks to people, they go crazy and conduct a mass suicide or protest soldiers' funerals. i would be more open to someone saying "this is just how i feel" than someone saying God told them it was right. a voice in your head can tell you anything, like kill your kids or bomb the White House. but that doesn't mean it's 100% right or social permissible. or legal, for that matter, lol.

[deleted account]

i'm in the same boat, both families are religious and i can't stand it. my grandma keeps saying she doesn't understand why i've "drifted from God" when i "used to love going to church." i've always hated church. i hated the people, the place, everything. the atmosphere was never what religious people said it should be, but if i were to ever say it wasn't the same for me they'd say i was probably going through conviction and needed to repent.



i'm sorry, but that honestly doesn't fly with me. i'm not going to go somewhere where i feel like shit for being there. why would anyone want to? why would anyone want to go somewhere where they feel as though everyone is judging them because they aren't wearing the right clothes or don't go often enough or whatever?



some people have told me it's probably just the church i went to, but i've been to a lot of churches and i've never felt comfortable. if God is what they claim, then He doesn't give a shit what i wear or look like or where i go to worship.



and that's basically my argument to my family when they start being annoying about my choice of spirituality against religion. i hate religion, honestly. religion is all about what other people think, and i could care less about that. if i decide to follow a god or whatever, i will do it because it feels right, not because i was raised to or pressured into it by family or peers.

Mother - posted on 02/24/2012

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I've only been in COM for a short period of time and did not see the jewelry wearing post. I even went back and tried to find it. How is wearing jewelry wrong??

Johnny - posted on 02/24/2012

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I will say again, what I said about the jewelry in the first place. Respect is a two-way street. To me, the way in which your parents speak to you about these issues is incredibly disrespectful. You are a grown woman and in my opinion you have every right to be treated properly. I can agree with not wearing costume jewelry or just a pretty trinket when your parents are around. But to expect you to remove pieces that have personal or spiritual significance in your life suggests that they don't see you as your own person deserving of their respect. If that is the case, they do not deserve and have not earned yours in return. It does not matter that they are the parents and you are the child, you are a grown woman with her own family and their equal in every way.



I have to admit, I must really agree with Jenny. It is so hard to see the damage these archaic beliefs do to people and families. I hope you can find the support and love you deserve as you journey away from this. I think the consideration you are giving to others in life is very evident in your posts (always has been) and you deserve the same.

Jenny - posted on 02/24/2012

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If most people agree, then I think the best thing for me to do is to not wear it and just not go over much. Once I don't need her as a baby sitter then I can do this. I just can't envision my life doomed to not wearing a necklace around my mother.

It's very frustrating at the moment because I am over there a lot. If i only saw her once a month or so I would not have as big an issue with not wearing it. So maybe just limit my visits so that at least I don't feel so impacted on when I do go there and have to take it off.



What would I do about my kids? They're young now, but as they grow older and wear jewlery I don't like the thought of putting them through this and having them take it off when they go over.



Again, if I'm being blinded by being too close to the situation to know what's resonable and can be enlightend I will respect what people have to say on this.

Tam - posted on 02/24/2012

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In my opinion, at least, your friend should not have needed to remove her jewelry in a public setting just because her mom is there to disapprove. I've believed that from the beginning.



However, going along with the smoker analogy again, it's true that we know that it is physically harmful to smoke, especially in the past few decades when the studies started coming out. Thing is, even before that people found smoking unpleasant and would forbid it in their homes on no known scientific basis at all - they just didn't like it.



Kind of the same thing with the jewelry. We all know that it doesn't actually harm you. Even the religious people here agree that wearing it won't damn you to hell forever and ever. But to your mother, it is offensive. To do it in her home is offensive as well, once she has made her preferences known.



I was speaking with my husband (also an atheist) about this subject and he just shrugged and said, "If someone brought their family over and made all their female family members sit on the floor instead of the couch, I'd be offended. Even though it has nothing to do with our family and they didn't try to impose it on us."



I understand the symbolism behind the jewelry to you as chain broken from oppression. I totally agree with it.



However, that particular symbolism will likely never be seen by your mother in such a way. She might see your not wearing jewelry as a sign of capitulation to her beliefs, but you know it isn't true. And eventually, as has been pointed out, she'll find out it isn't true either. I see that it will be hard to garner respect from her regarding your choices of faith, but just because she has a hard or impossible time of coming around does not mean that you should operate at her level due to her close-minded assumptions.



Again, this is just my opinion, and no offense meant.

Mother - posted on 02/22/2012

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So, my first question to you is.....why do you care?? No one needs anothers validation. Even tho I understand the bond between parents and children why do you need their approval?? My Mother a VERY religious woman tries to impart her wisdom but it falls on deaf ears. I am happy she has found what brings her peace and happiness, BUT has she?? I find it odd how others get so up in arms when they find out i am not of the same belief system. Does my NOT believing make their beliefs any less real?? It shouldn't, and if it does, there's a problem.



A ways down you said that she knows 100% that her belief is right.....I'd ask her how. No one knows that their belief is the right way....that's why it is called FAITH. There are many paths that lead to the same destination and as a grown woman you are free to choose what path that is. Good luck.



Oh, on a side note.....I've always found that it is never me that feels out of place in such situations that it is usually me that makes Christians uncomfortable just by believing something different.

Tam - posted on 02/19/2012

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To be blunt, Johnny, yes.



(Note, I'll use your example for the sake of the argument but veils don't offend me. It takes quite a bit to offend me, actually.)



If I were so entrenched in a belief as to think that a person going around fully veiled was an affront to all I stood for, I would ask that it not be carried out in my home. On the same token, I'd make my preferences known prior to any sort of visit, and that family member (or friend) would be absolutely welcome to not come over. But to add to that, I don't think that I would judge them based on their disinclination to visit me at my home because of rules I have that make them uncomfortable being here.



If my relationship with that veiled person was strong enough that I still had contact, then I would not try to extend my rules at home to any contact with me.



The difference lies in domain, in my opinion. My home is my domain and I control what is and is not allowed within - behavior, language, etc. Once I am no longer on my property, my personal wishes no longer need to be obeyed, only laws that every citizen must abide.



That being said, I personally don't have too many prohibitions on what I don't allowed in my house, beyond what I suppose is 'normal'. Not being religious, I honestly don't care is someone decides to, say, utter grace for themselves before a meal. I won't do it, but I don't care if they want to.



I will, and have in the past, asked people to leave my house when they decide they must proselytize when I have asked them to refrain from doing so. Once they're on the sidewalk, they can do such as long as they wish, until it breaks public law (harassment, disturbing the peace, etc.)

Mary - posted on 02/19/2012

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For my contribution to this conversation, I'm not "discounting it because it isn't spiritual". My take on Jenny's posts were that the jewelry wasn't of any significant emotional importance to her - it was more about the hassle and annoyance at having to remove it.



For me, it's about picking your battles, and trying to compromise where you can. I typically chose to let the small things that aren't of great importance to me go, even if I find it a bit irritating to do so.



Family relationships can often be difficult, and sometimes require little sacrifices here and there. I don't always like or enjoy some of the things I have to do with or for my family. I absolutely despise little girl dance recitals. I find them painfully boring, and would rather spend my afternoon scrubbing toilets or watching paint dry. Yet when my niece was involved with ballet, I found myself driving an hour and half each way to do just that. I love her (and my sister). It was important to her to have "Mar" there to see her perform, so I sucked it up and did it.



On the other hand, if she was involved in her school's after-hours Pro-life rally group and was giving a speech, or having a fundraiser, I would absolutely decline to attend. (I'm not making this up - they live in Northern Virginia, and her grade school does have such a thing, which she is not a part of. That would only happen over my sister's dead body!)

Johnny - posted on 02/19/2012

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Tam, if you were deeply opposed to a family member's religious display, such as a woman who fully veils (just a for instance), would you ask to have it removed when they came into your home?

Johnny - posted on 02/19/2012

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I guess that's the kind of thing I was thinking of. For me, it's my wedding and engagement rings and my plumeria flower chain (from one of my closest friends who passed a few years ago). They don't come off. They do have deep meaning to me, but it isn't "spiritual". I would not take them off for any reason. I would take off my earrings or bracelets, because they are not deeply important to me. I would want to show respect, but frankly, not at my own expense, because then it is only a one way street. Not knowing what that jewelry means to her, I'm just wondering if we are discounting it because it isn't spiritual? I'm not saying it is, and in that case, I would agree. I am just thinking in type.

Tam - posted on 02/19/2012

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You make a valid point, Johnny.



For my opinion, at least, it is not what reasons are behind the choice of whether to wear jewelry or not, but WHERE it is happening.



Her mother doesn't want it in her home. End of story.



If they were out having lunch in a public place, and she wished to wear jewelry (or had to due to her beliefs) then there is no reason to allow the mother to dictate what she does, as she has no control of that situation. In my opinion, requiring her to conform to her mother's beliefs at the expense of her own choice is ludicrous.



Same as how I don't allow smoke in or around my home, but I surely don't tell my friends they are forbidden to smoke if we are out together.

Krista - posted on 02/19/2012

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Likely, Johnny. If her jewelry held very deep personal meaning to her, be that emotional, spiritual, or what-have-you, then I would think that her family should respect her right to wear it. If she never takes off her wedding ring, for example, due to it being a symbol of the constancy of her love for her husband, then no, I would absolutely not suggest that she take off her ring for the sake of pleasing her parents.



My impression, however, was that she was speaking more of simple adornment. In which case I think it wouldn't hurt to let them have that one, if only so that she can point out how achingly reasonable and respectful SHE'S being of their faith, and that she only wishes for the same respect in return.

Johnny - posted on 02/19/2012

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I can not really address the situation at hand as I have been fortunate not to face anything like this. I did lose my best friend because I would not become a Christian, but my family would never change the way they treat me or feel about me because of my personal beliefs. So I have no words of wisdom, I can only wish you luck and hope that your loved ones can care more than they judge.



I do have a question though for some of the other posters, something that rather occurred to me in the conversation about showing respect by not wearing jewelry.



Now, in this case Jenny is wearing jewelry simply for fashion, not for a religious reason, and she is fine with not wearing it in front of her parents at this time.



I do have to wonder though, would your responses be different if she had changed faiths rather than lost her religion? If she had joined another religious group in which some sort of jeweled adornment was prescribed by its practices? Would it still be wrong of her to sport this jewelery (a faith-based choice) in front of her parents? Is our opinion about what is respectful different because she is moving away from religion and it is not faith-based?



It just seems that very often reasons based on faith are given more weight and value than reasons based on logic or fancy. I'm just wondering if there would be different advice being given on this circumstance if her reasons were different but the action was the same.

Jenni - posted on 02/19/2012

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It's tough, and really depends on the individual what reaction you'll get. But I can completely relate to the uncomfortable feeling of people thinking your silence means you agree. I guess you have to judge what's more uncomfortable for you. Living a lie around your family, having to hide a part of you. Or the very real risk of losing relationships, the lectures, the other things you've listed.



The way I see it; I'd rather be true to myself and my convictions and if those around me can't accept me for who I am. It's on them. I still accept them regardless of differing beliefs and opinions. I love the person, I accept it's impossible to agree on everything and you can still love and accept someone even if your fundamental beliefs are vastly different. So as tough as it is, it's their choice if they can respect me the way I respect them. You also want to avoid religious "debates". I think that is probably where a lot of feelings get hurt. So find a way to out yourself on the lectures. A simple: "I understand that is what you believe but it is not the same thing I believe. I'd rather not discuss such things because I fear it may harm our relationship."



That said; I am blowing a lot of hot air in this post because my family isn't ultra religious. More spiritual. So the topic rarely comes up. My sister is an atheist who as a child/ teen was the most religious of all of us. My brother has always believed but has a heightened belief since his symptoms of skizo affective disorder have peaked. (Course I'm not relating believing in a god to having a mental illness. Just what has happened to him as an individual). He's gotten a bit preachy at my sister and I. My husbands family are spiritual to Atheist. My mother is spiritual. The topic of god has never been a large conversation piece in my home since we were children and attended church. The only time it comes up is at Holidays when my family prays before the eat. This was actually the first time I realized my sister was an atheist as her and I were the only ones that didn't bow our heads for prayer.

Rosie - posted on 02/19/2012

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i feel like mary does. from what you've described it doesn't seem to me that there would be any type of tolerance for your situation. so you could tell them and deal with the aftermath gracefully, or you could continue to keep it a secret and deal with the stresses that it entails.



i'm in a situation somewhat similar to yours, except i don't believe i'd be disowned. i'm just not ready to deal with the begging to come to reason, or their ignorance on the subject entirely. i'm rather worried along with the lectures, that i wouldn't be able to say what i wanted to say in a gracious way. i'm quickly losing my tolerance for those trying to push their religious beliefs on me. i'd want to make them see how idiotic i feel their beliefs AND actions are. yet, i don't want to do that to my family.



i know it sounds contradictory that i don't want to do that, but would probably end up doing it anyway. it makes me feel like i have no control or no grace about this topic. i think i personally need to be more confident about my lack of belief before i approach the situation with them...maybe you need some more time too?

Krista - posted on 02/19/2012

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I recently talked to my mother about the jewlery issue and she said to me "how can you believe something different when i know with more than 100% certainty that my view is correct." well. you cannot argue with that can you? ;)



Augh. That's got to be maddening. Plus, the tiny, mean part of me wants to point out that she seems to be more than a bit guilty of one of the seven deadlies: pride.



Sigh...there really is not going to be a perfect solution to this, I'm afraid. Like Mary said, unless you plan to raise your children in that faith, the cat's going to come out of the bag sooner rather than later.



If your mom is delicate and prone to dramatics (which is what it sounds like), then it's probably better to do things gradually. Otherwise, I'd recommend the "rip-the-band-aid-off" approach.



She already knows you're full of sin because you wear jewelry (*shakes head in disbelief*), so I would just go with the first statement that I posted downthread. And then wait and see. She's GOING to pressure you, no doubt about it.



I'm thinking that you can use the jewelry thing as a bit of a bargaining chip. Start respecting her wishes to not go to her home while wearing jewelry. I know it's a pain in the ass, but, if she starts haranguing you about faith, you can then say, "Mom, I respect your faith. I remove my jewelry when I come here, and I do not question or belittle your faith. I am simply asking you to respect the fact that I have to choose my own spiritual journey. If you have concerns or questions, we can talk about them. But I don't want to get in an argument or fight with you over this."



It's not going to be easy. With your family, it'll never be easy, I'm afraid. And you'll need to be vigilant, because she WILL do her best to proselytize to the kids -- of that, I have no doubt.



Hopefully you guys can at least get to a point where the conflict is no more than a minor annoyance -- that's really the best you can hope for, I think.

Tam - posted on 02/19/2012

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I just wanted to chime in on the jewelry at the parent's house bit.



While I do think it is a pretty silly thing to worry about, the fact that your parents, and mother in particular, do worry so much has to be treated as valid.



One of the reasons I am able to maintain respect with my religious friends who know and disagree with my lack of belief is that I still give their beliefs the respect I'd want for my own. So really, if she asks you not to wear jewelry around her, it's not so unreasonable. It's more of a compromise and probably seen by her as a great sacrifice to make for your relationship to be less volatile. I guess I look at it akin at asking people not to smoke at my house, or not to swear in front of my kids. Just things that people do that I don't agree with, and don't want in my home.



Does that make sense?

Mary - posted on 02/19/2012

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Jenny, I don't know how old your kids are, but I'm thinking this is going to come up at some point if you aren't taking them to church, or raising them in this faith. It sounds as if they don't live far from you - haven't they ever asked you about why you don't attend services with them, or have your kids in some type of Sunday school?



I have no experience with your situation. I was raised Catholic, and while most of my family have some type of faith, I don't know anyone who interprets the bible literally (or even really reads it), nor do any of them follow any strict rules or doctrines even remotely similar to the ones you are describing. More than a few of my friends are probably best described as agnostic, and they never really had to deal with any family issues until they had kids.



At that point, it sort of became glaringly obvious that they were no longer following the faith of their parents. For Catholics, this starts by whether or not you have that infant baptized . For others, it starts to become more apparent as they get a little older - like when the kid seems bewildered or clueless about praying before meals, since that isn't something that is done at home. Or when that 3 y/o has no clue about who baby Jesus is at Christmas, but can gleefully belt out all the lyrics of Rudolph.



Listening to the way you have described your family, it doesn't really sound like they are going to accept your lack of belief gracefully or painlessly. I completely understand you reticence in "coming clean" with them, since it seems like a complete shunning is a distinct possibility. However, I don't see how you can avoid it forever, unless you plan to raise your kids in that faith, despite your own lack of belief. This is not a road I could ever take, but I know there are those that have.



I'm sorry - I wish I knew of some easy to answer to this, or had some great nugget of advice. The situation you've described really doesn't sound like there is a whole lot of hope for a harmonious relationship with your parents when and if you are honest with them about your beliefs. I just don't see how you can keep up the facade of sharing their beliefs forever unless you are teaching your kids their faith as well.

Stifler's - posted on 02/19/2012

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I stopped going to church when I got a job and I understand. My parents are very religious and would be appalled if they knew I didn't ever believe in speaking in tongues and I can imagine those exact conversations if I even considered telling them I don't know whether I believe or not. Thankfully we moved 600km away (not so we could avoid the conversation) and when they ask if we're going to a church I just say we're too busy through the week and like to relax on the weekend. My husband also claims he's an atheist but wants to send the kids to Sunday school which leads me to believe he's more agnostic than atheist. And if they say grace at their house we just pretend to be into it and if they say it at our house we don't care. I have never heard about the jewelry thing before, you learn something new every day.

Jenny - posted on 02/18/2012

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No there is no logic behind their jewlery issue. I have actually discussed this at length with my Dad about a year ago using biblical verses to back up all of my thinking. Even Jesus used jewlery in this parables (i.e Father placing a gold ring on his pordigal son's return) even God used this metaphore of jelwery to symbolise how precious some one is on the loved ones eyes - theres somethin in the book of Isaiah where God takes pity on naked Israel and clothes her with fine garments and adorns her with jewlery to make her feel precious.



Anyway, I've read every verse there is to read in the Bible on jewlery and can see that sometimes it was used for bad and sometimes it was used as gifts to give to someone special, i.e a pordigal son, a new wife on her wedding day, a king.....



I did that once with my Dad and I will never do it again. He does not listen to anything I say. I.e at the end of it he said that God will NEVER put jewlery on someone and i was like but Dad "i've just read with you where it said that the Lord placed jewlery on Israel. He was like, "I never read that".....oh man. I had talked to a blank wall the whole time. Every verse pro jewlery written in the bible he did not hear.

Like I said, that is the last time I will ever try to debate an issue with a fundamentalist that is set in his way.



Im not surprised that religion has no logic. I've been trying to find the logic to my parents religion for 25 years and i have now had enough because there absolutely is not logic. The only logic that exists is their logic.



I recently talked to my mother about the jewlery issue and she said to me "how can you believe something different when i know with more than 100% certainty that my view is correct." well. you cannot argue with that can you? ;)

[deleted account]

"Would anyone agree with my parents that it would be respectful for me, my husband and my children to not wear jewelry infront of them because this is a big concern for them and makes them really upset?

I need to understand their logic before I can tackle it, and have them see my point of view too. "



I know this sounds awful but religious thinking seldom has logic behind it.



But the whole point about jewelry is that women were being charged to not wear it so that their faith in god would be their only adornment. that baubles and bangles only focus on their physical/earthly life when Paul & Timothy only wanted their followers to focus on the life eternal whcih they felt was imminent.



But to you and I, it's a fricken piece of fake gold with a pretty stone and it's silly.

Jenny - posted on 02/18/2012

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My unwiding thoughts as I listen to your feedback:



Its true that my family and friends are not going to be the only ones that will confront what I believe in. Its on a wider scale than that. But im prepared to deal with strangers, because they never had the impression that i was religious in the first place. Where as with friends and family, it will make them see me differently.



I do think it will be wise for me to be very cautious before I decide to tell someone what I believe in, because it would make them recoil and they will have a hard time listening to anything I have to say on any topic if they disagree with them on faith. Not all people are like that, but its true that a lot are.



Its true, my parents are the type of parents that will always be unhappy with me. Sad, but this is the reality. So in this regard it would pay to be more authentic to myself. At least feel like i'm not pretending anymore.



I agree, my mother wouldnt abandon me, but might go through stages where she'll want to, and will definatly make it hard for me to spend time with my sisters, not wanting me to influence them. But on the otherhand she's not exactly liberal with letting us hang out as it is anyway.



My parents are fundamentalists in the sense that they take the bible literally. And not only does religion come up alot, but also there are a lot of lifestyle restrictions they expect me to follow.



They will take the road of trying to win me back to their belief. There will be a lot of crying and praying. There already is a lot of crying and praying due to the fact that i wear jewlery and in their eyes this will send me to hell.

It is heart breaking how much they care about such a little thing.



I do think that there is a high possibility that if i tell my mother that I do not believe in God, she will go into some kind of medical issue. Heart attack, nervous breakdown etc...She's very fragile emotionally and is prone to panic attacks.



I do need her for childcare, and will at least wait until after that is done with.



So far i think i should take baby steps. Because of what a big a deal it would be to my parents in particular.



As it is we don't really discuss religion, because even if there is a God we disagree on what the bible says on almost every topic. So I guess I can just keep that part up, and be even more firm about not discussing religious issues.



The biggest thing that I need to tackle is our differing views on respect. I first probably need to start with them being able to respect me enough to not have an argument whenever I come over with a simple necklace.



What is respect when it comes to religious lifestyle differences?

To my parents respect is listening to them because they are older and wiser and they made me. It is not doing what they dont agree with infront of them.



Would anyone agree with my parents that it would be respectful for me, my husband and my children to not wear jewelry infront of them because this is a big concern for them and makes them really upset?

I need to understand their logic before I can tackle it, and have them see my point of view too.

Tam - posted on 02/18/2012

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Oh, one addendum.



The effect of standing by what you believe in, such as agnosticism, is not going to be isolated to your family. Many people think that agnostic is the same as atheist, even though it isn't. Strangers, friends, acquaintances, and so on will make judgments too.



Make sure that you are absolutely certain you wish to make that step of letting everyone know. I'd never tell someone to hide their beliefs. I don't. But I can tell you that I've had people physically recoil from me when they found out my beliefs, as though they were going to catch it.



But also, family tends to be more accepting than people who are not so invested in you as a person.

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