Why I Can’t Come Out

“Closets are for clothes, not for people.”

“You’re only in the closet because you’re too pretentious to publicly admit you don’t believe in God.”

“You’re putting your fear of rejection above your own beliefs.”

These are all things I’ve heard from open atheists since making my story public on this blog. I understand that most of those who say this are people who were once in the atheist closet and have had to come out and face their fears. For some, it was barely consequential. For some, relationships were destroyed.

When I say “come out” in terms of coming all the way out, I don’t mean coming out to friends at school or other students or people that I’m not close with. I don’t care if they know. It makes no difference to me. There is a thin line between my being in the closet and my being completely out, and that line is my mother. If everyone in the world knows but she doesn’t, I’m still in the closet; until the day that I confront her and tell her, I’ll be the Closet Atheist.

I think that the hardest thing to wrap your mind around as a reader is that I understand where my mother is coming from. I’ve lived in this world my whole life. It’s as if I have an insider’s view (Lutheran) and an outsider’s view (atheist) on this situation. I know what atheists look like to her, and how the word “atheist” has a different connotation to her than it does to me. Think of it this way: many evolutionists say that the reason why most anti-evolutionists don’t believe in/accept it is because they don’t know what it is. It’s the same way with my mother and atheism. She doesn’t really know what it is, she doesn’t accept it, and I’m not about to ask her what she thinks it is.

One thing I have decided is that when I tell her, instead of saying “Mom, I’m an atheist,” I should say “Mom, I don’t believe in God,” or “Mom, I’m not a Christian.” I have no idea what the word “atheist” means to her, and I don’t want to use it before my definition has been made clear. And it will be a sensitive and emotional conversation, thus…not the time for technical definitions.

If you’re me, an atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in God. If you’re my mom, it’s someone whose life has fallen apart. They’ve lost their way, they’re living in sin, they’re doing everything wrong.

I noticed this Sunday that a boy my age that grew up going to my church hasn’t come in years (I’m not very observant of the congregation). His parents are as religious as my mother is; the father is a church elder and the mother is in charge of VBS and the Christmas program every year. I asked my mother, “is he even a Christian anymore!?” (Note: if you’re trying to come out to a parent, this is actually a good idea. Test the waters, see how they respond to someone else you know being an atheist. My test did not have good results, as you shall see.) When we talked about it and she filled me in on his life, she told me how he’s lost the faith and his life is in shambles. He stopped coming to church, then he moved in with his girlfriend (a big sin, FYI), dropped out of school, started working at Golf Galaxy, broke up with his girlfriend, moved in with his parents, and still works at Golf Galaxy and doesn’t go to church or school.

She then used this piece of gossip to inform me that she differs from his parents in the fact that she wouldn’t let any of her children live under her roof without attending church. I would have been more disheartened if I hadn’t already known that; if it wasn’t a rule that I had to attend church, then what have I been getting up all these Sunday mornings for? (Aside from posting on here 😉 ) She then informed me that I should take this church-attending virtue that has been instilled in me and continue it for my whole life (even though she knows that I don’t attend church at college). Her exact words were “Without God, you’ll fall flat on your face. You know that right? So don’t try it. You need Him.” And I said, “I won’t… I don’t want to mess up my face or anything.” (This exchange might give you a hint of how miserably terrible I am at faith-related conversations)

There have been different times when I’ve wondered why she hasn’t picked up from my religiously apathetic act that I’m not a Christian like she and my older sisters are. I realized during this conversation last Sunday that she too strongly equates Christianity with goodness, success, and church attendance to be able to separate them without leaving a mess. I’m a good, nice person, I attend college and don’t live with my boyfriend, and I attend church. Even if I don’t sing along to the hymns, read my bible, or wear the cross necklace I got for my confirmation, she has no reason to suspect that I’m an atheist, because atheists are mean, they drop out of college, and they hate Christians.

Overall, it is a very disheartening and unfortunate situation for everyone involved. I don’t want to portray my mother as a bigot or having conditional love on my blog, although I know it often seems that I do this. It’s because we have no visible rift in real life, and in my writing is the only outlet for these negative, suppressed feelings. If I didn’t love her and hold her opinion higher than anyone else’s, then this wouldn’t matter and I wouldn’t worry about it.

That being said, it is a sad situation for her as well. You’ll only understand it if you put yourself in her shoes. Your child isn’t just telling you that she doesn’t share your beliefs, but her eternal life will be cut short, she is incapable of doing any good, and she has turned her back on your way of life, not to mention she has been lying to you since childhood. She is not who you thought she was. She is not the good Christian girl you raised. You’ve failed to pass your faith onto her, even though you have tried so hard for so many years, and now it’s out of your control. Your heart is broken.

I don’t feel bad for being an atheist. I do, of course, understand that you can’t choose what you do or do not believe, and you can’t choose who you are. What I feel bad for is letting my mother down and making her feel the way I just described. The alternative is never telling her, which would greatly restrict my life, but it would be just as despicable to live a lie forever.

This is one of the most precious relationships in my life, and if it were destroyed by my coming out, then both or our lives would change drastically for the worst. On the other hand, our relationship is not in its fullest, most honest state; there is a wall between us that only one of us is fully aware of. Whatever effect my coming out has, it would at least, and at last, tear down this wall so that what of her love is left, she can know is for my true self and not for my facade.

Read next:

I Am an Atheist (2)

46 Replies to “Why I Can’t Come Out”

  1. I too am a Closet Atheist. Part of what keeps me in the closet is that my wife’s family who is very important to me and even more to my wife is “highly indoctrinated” in their religious beliefs or at least the public communication about their beliefs. However I do not have a real drive to “come out” as it was. I have not come out regarding my disbelief in unicorns, abductions, superstitions its funny that we almost feel we have to make our statement. To be honest I am most anxious to publicly state my disbelief of these myths, when I see the “religious” acting so blatantly nonreligious. Bigotry, judgementalism, exclusivity, self importance, are all characteristics that the bible warns against yet these are traits I see in so many of the “religious”.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Although I am Christian, I am not here to judge. I find other people’s views and opinions so interesting (that’s why I’m binge reading your blog haha). I totally respect that not everyone is Christian and they believe different things. I totally get where you’re coming from, my boyfriend isn’t Christian and everyone freaks out about it and that’s so minor compared to what must be happening to you. I also get where your mum is coming from but Christians believe that Jesus died so we can be forgiven, therefore we need to forgive everyone else. I am not saying you’re sinning but your mum should forgive you (if you know what I mean?). I’m so glad you have your blog as a place where you can talk about it!🙈

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is…. Something I can relate to. Your mother sounds a lot like mine, in that Christianity equals goodness, success, and every virtue imaginable. Anything else is Lesser Than, and therefore pitiable. I am thus left with a weight to wrestle with – as I have been for the last few months. I’m not sure I’ll ever “come out” to her, though… Mostly because I’ve gone through a period of disagreeing vocally with her on what Christianity constitutes and it wasn’t pretty at all. For both of us. This continued for months, until I relented on believing things her way…. The pain that I saw us go through wasn’t worth being “right,” for me, despite my own convictions still standing today.

    But I do love her. Very much. And do I wonder if there will be a day when I can tell her I no longer believe in a god….. And I am much happier this way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I will say I feel for you. Not because I have had the same situation, but by the way you express your feelings, and feelings are something I can appreciate, whatever the situations are in which they arise. I will also say I admire your patience with your mother. I do not think I could deal with the situation with the tact you have shown with your mother.

    I also feel you have every right to deal with your situation the way you see it best. I think nobody can dictate how another should act, even if they have gone through a similar situation. Advise and support maybe, but not dictate, and certainly not to think any less of you for the way you are handling the situation with your mother.

    I do not understand it when you say you cannot choose “what you believe or do not believe.” Is someone else making these choices for you? I will not go into why the following is so right now, but I fully claim all the choices I make whether they are directed by my brain or not. For more on my views in relation to the brain see my blog – “Why Are People Afraid of Their Brain?” @ https://aquestionersjourney.wordpress.com/2016/11/26/why-are-people-afraid-of-their-brain/.

    Thank you for letting me paste in links to my blogs, you have never showed anything but kindness in doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. At some point you will have to cross that line, I have done so. Till then let your mum know you love her. Love covers all sins so the lying should be overlooked: there is a reason for it much as it is wrong. I hope you get all the help you need when your mum knows of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My family isn’t extremely religious, but they don’t understand how anyone could not believe in God. They just don’t understand. They don’t read the Bible, they don’t go to church, and overall I don’t have many problems in my interactions with them. Occasionally though, when they do mention religion, it gets awkward really quick. I want to come out to them. I want them to understand, but I’m not sure when, or if, that will happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I admire your respect and love for your mother. I have a son in college at the moment and I can speak to what might happen if he were to announce that he rejects Christianity and is now an atheist.

    I would be sad, but not heartbroken. We raised him in a home that always questioned things, especially related to the modern church. If he were to come home and say “Dad, the church is so full of crap that I have decided I don’t want much to do with it”, I would have given him a hug and said, “I know what you mean, and you are right!” If he told me the thing you are hesitant to tell your mom, I would have told him:

    “You have to live your life the way that makes sense to you. You have to get to the end of your life, be able to look back on it, and feel that you have lived it the way YOU want to live it. You don’t have to believe the same way we do. Don’t be afraid to question this God thing and don’t lock yourself into any one position. Regardless, we love you and want you to NOT be afraid to be yourself around us nor do we want you to avoid us because we believe differently.”

    His mom, on the other hand, might need to be hospitalized! She would be utterly devastated. Her first thoughts would be “what did I do wrong, how could I have possibly been such a bad mother that my son doesn’t even believe in God?” She would worry for his eternal soul night and day. It would devastate her. I don’t know what it is about mothers, but they take these kind of things personally.

    It sounds to me like your mother might experience the same trauma when she finds out. So you truly have a dilemma. I don’t think there is an easy solution, but perhaps you could do it slowly, and give her time to warm up to the idea? Maybe tell her you have stopped attending church for another reason? There are lots of good reasons you could use that are probably still true, other than the BIG reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I can relate. But I do have some new ideas I cannot wait to share with you.
    For one, I am not an Anti- Evolutionist, I am, as I said in my blog many times, firmly believe in evolution as I study Archaeology, and I live some aspects of my life according to what we have Built in us by it. At the same time, While I visit a Lutheran Church and a Synagogue not as a believer, I guess I am a secular. Which unfortunately means to some “atheist”. I actually to belive in God. It is religion I have a problem with. So if I am not anti evolution and do know what ‘it’ is… Where does this leave me according to the theory mentioned above? I genuinely want to know.
    My second thought is about “values”. There a topic I think you will find quite fascinating! In fact, I think it might help with understanding some things… It is a long story but in theory formed by Jung and developed sense, there are sixteen personality types. It is used world-wide for career compatibility, education, even in places such as NASA to assess types before assembling teams of astronauts, for instance. How does all this relate to our issue? Well, it is quite possible that your outside life is of higher priority compare to your need to live a way of life that is in sync with your inner values and this is not a crime! And it may change. I would have done differently as I am a different type.
    Also, I easily comprehend the analogy to your mother and other point of view, This is one all of us individualists must deal with. In this matter you, and you alone, call the shots. You can choose to never expose her to it- that is one perfectly fine and valid choice. But I see another: Expose to her new things as gradually as she can handle. You see, some people are not made to adapt to new perceptions- it would feel to them like if it would feel to you had your ground which you stand on was pulled from under you. These faiths are the solid rock they cling to for safety. So be understanding, patient, and gradual. I am guessing you are young, probably my age, and you have time to figure a way.
    “Without God, you’ll fall flat on your face. You know that right? So don’t try it. You need Him.”- That is it. This is the sentence that summarizes the whole idea with your mother (Remember what I said about safety and security?) It is a whole new topic relating to the way “We are designed to want God,and I wondered if in fact God was not “designed” to meet our wants. It is research on what faith gives people, spiritually, a meaning. Why they NEED to believe in God. Secondly, some of her words are true and intimidating because, well, we are all fearful of the dangers of this world or the “dangers” of stepping out the small Christian greenhouse. And it is true, you are safer in there… From the experiences of life- both good and bad (and I am writing this from within the bad ones. Do you want the life out there? or do you want to be secure and maybe live a life which is at most, comfortable? This is where YOUR values, Your priorities take place. Your mother’s voice may always play in the back of your head. That is fine. She is your mom. I am a Hebrew. When I go to church I suspect she fears I would burst into flames. We simply do not talk about it.
    I know it is sensitive. If I did hit a nerve, please do let me know, for next time. (:


    1. Thanks so much for your input!

      As far as the personality types go: I’ve actually taken that before! I’m INTJ. What are you? I don’t know precisely it influences my decisions, but I agree with what you said about whether my outside vs inside situation is more important. For now, I’d rather have an internal struggle that I’m facing against myself than have actual issues with family members.

      I think I meant to add this to my post, and I might put it in a future post, but I’ll tell you here since you brought it up: I don’t know if you know about Dawkins’ idea of “climbing Mount Improbable,” but basically he is explaining how we didn’t all get here by sudden chance but by a slow built-up process. I see this similar to how I’m trying to come out to my mom. I know it’ll end with me sitting down and telling her (if it ever happens), but that experience will be greatly cushioned if I climb gradually towards it by leaving hints and slowly straying away from religion. That way it won’t surprise her.

      I appreciate your thought-provoking reply. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Another wonderful post! You are so strong for sharing your thoughts and experiences and pressing forward with life by your standards.

    I did want to comment on one other thing, please. You said, “…I do, of course, understand that you can’t choose what you do or do not believe..”

    While this is for sure true in many ways–where a person is born usually determines their religion–such is complicated. Generally speaking, any notion of biological determinism is considered pseudoscience. (Some people, because of age and experience and “training,” do get to a point where they physiologically cannot think or see anything different.) That is, that, especially in your case, you do have control over what you do and don’t believe. AND THAT’S A GREAT THING.

    You show again and again through your posts that you are actively critically thinking about the world. That, ultimately, is a choice, and a good one at that. Way too many churches and politicians say, most seriously, that critical thinking is the doing of the devil. Which is crazy of course.

    (Although, I can relate – sometimes I wish I could just enjoy a movie without having to critique its representations of women, gender, etc.!)

    From a psychological perspective, it would be “healthier” to say I choose to not do so-and-so and choose to do so-and-so. This makes you a direct, active agent of your life. (In terminology, this would be an internal, changeable, controllable attribution.)

    My main point is be glad you are who you are, be glad you have an active mind that is ready to criticize and critique! 🙂 Take ownership of your critical thinking! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words! What you said about being able to choose what you believe is interesting. I can’t really control how I’m skeptical, although I can determine if I find an argument persuasive enough to sway me. For example, I used to believe in objective morality (there’s a link to a paper I wrote on it in my post Journey to Atheism: Part 2) but I don’t think I do anymore. I didn’t just decide to change my mind, but hearing arguments and learning more lead me to a conclusion different than what I originally thought. So you’re right, I can change what I believe, and I think it mostly depends on which arguments I expose myself to.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi there!! I wanted to stop by, read some of your work, and thank you for the follow.

    After reading your article, Im really sorry that you’re having this difficulty. I would hope that your mom would understand and still love you as a mom should.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m sorry there are Atheists who don’t get why you haven’t “come out.” It’s such a difficult decision and you have given it a lot of thought. You are definitely doing the right thing. I’m at the reverse end in that I’m a mother who can’t come out to her children because it would confuse and hurt them. I’m slowly trying to get them to think through the religion I raised them in and introduce them to these ideas so they will hopefully come to the conclusion on their own as I did. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope it will help others understand that this is a personal decision. If not you might remind them that Evangelicals insist converts tell everyone about their faith, even if it hurts their relationships. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I value your skepticism more than I could say (language, as we both must know, is never enough.) Apart from everything you wrote, detaching one’s self from from a mold is the beginning, whether I agree with it or not. Science started developing much faster once we openly stated: “We do not know”. Then we can start learning. So it is a good place to start. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Wow, what a sticky situation you are in. I do hope that your plan works and that they are able to reach a reasonable conclusion on their own!

      And the atheists that I mentioned don’t usually mention me specifically. People, especially on Twitter, like to post general statements about closet atheists and how they should come out. Some people on here have asked why someone would still be a closet atheist in this day and age. Usually, I think people only say this because they don’t know the circumstances of why someone would be a closet atheist. And to address the second question that I just mentioned, I added a text widget with a little explanation on why I’m in the closet so people can get a better basic understanding of my situation before getting caught up in my posts.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. My dad is a closet atheist. Just a few of us in our deeply southern cultural Christian family know. It is mainly a closet thing because of my grandmother. I think my sister tried to tell her once but it was of no use. I agree with the other posts about doing what is best for you and your mom’s relationship. Does she ever really need to know? It will become apparent once you move out on your own. And I wouldn’t be surprised if she already suspects something. She just doesn’t know what to do probably and is holding out hope that you will change your mind. I can tell you on my side that having different presuppositions and worldviews makes conversation difficult at times within the family. Concede where you need to in order to keep the peace… I guess? We do it everyday in society already.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Honestly I would prefer to never have the conversation, mostly because I’m afraid and non-confrontational by nature. But like you said, it will be apparent when I’m on my own, not attending church, and little things like not hanging up decorations with bible verses on them (wedding gifts I’ll surely receive) or not sending my kids to VBS.

      Sometimes I wonder what she may already suspect. Like I said, she may suspect something, but not being Christian in my family is so preposterous and unheard of that no one would ever really jump to that conclusion. Plus, when I express interest in things like apologetics and going to bible study, that makes her proud of how my “faith” seems to be strengthening. I don’t do that stuff to confuse people, but I see how it can have that effect. She knows, though, that I don’t like singing hymns or attending church in the first place. She has told me on several occasions that she prays that I would gain a better relationship with God.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. When it comes to telling your mom you’re an atheist, the only advice I can think to give is:

    Make it clear to your mom that you are “coming out of the closet” out of love for her, not out of a desire to spite her in any way.

    Because you love your mom and only want the best for her, like you know she does for you, you don’t want her to live in ignorance, believing that you’re a Christian when you’re actually not.

    Point out your accomplishments in college, and the doors those accomplishments open, making it clear to your mom that becoming an atheist doesn’t automatically put one on the road to ruin.

    You could also the point out the pastors who have lost everything as a result of scandal in their churches as an example of how Christian faith doesn’t automatically shield one from all the woes of this imperfect world.

    For example:

    Point out that the god of the Bible is, according to the Bible, just, loving, and understanding.

    Since God knows everything, He knows that you’d one day become an atheist. And since God has a plan for everyone, He must be allowing you to become an atheist for a reason: as a means of fulfilling that plan. After all: After you renounced your faith, did a lighting bolt strike you dead?

    Be prepared to tell her any day.

    Be prepared to come out at a moment’s notice.

    Because: One more moment, and the opportunity to come out could be lost forever.

    I wish I could do more to help you.

    You’re in my prayers, and I wish you the best.

    No matter what happens:

    I’m thankful for you being in my life. Even if it’s a part of my life that only exists on WordPress. You’ve changed my life for the better and, speaking as a Catholic, I do believe that meeting you here, on your blog, has helped me, and continues to help me, become the person God wants me to be, whoever that may be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Timothy,

      Thanks for your ongoing support towards me and interest in my blog. It feels good to know that cares about what I’m going through and that in turn it helps you become a better person.

      One comment on the rest of it: I think that what you describe is easier said than done. Her beliefs are very peculiar in that she believes that if you aren’t a Christian, you can’t be good, but also, if you claim to be a Christian but live a sinful life, then you’re not a true Christian. There’s only good and Christian and there’s bad and not Christian (if that makes sense). So those preachers who were caught up in the scandals, she would say, were never real Christians. In the same way, I could point out my positive traits and accomplishments, but since Christianity and goodness are a package deal, I don’t know how much they’ll truly help.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Closet Atheist,

        Thank you for your reply, and for going into more detail about your struggle.

        You come across as the kind of person who’s always willing to listen to both sides of an issue — as far as I can tell, you’re never quick to shut anyone down, or refuse to listen to someone just because they think differently than you. Being quick to shut someone down, and refusing to listen, unfortunately being actions I’ve been guilty of, and have seen in Christians and atheists alike. That’s why I’m happy to support your blog and, by extension, you; as corny as it might sound, you’re like a light in a dark place, and I want to do what I can to help that light to continue to burn brightly.

        Though it may take me hours or days to comment on, or reply to, a post or comment that you write, I’ll always do my best to be there for you.

        And, what you say makes sense.

        I’ll continue to pray for you.

        If there’s ever anything I can do to help you with anything, let me know anytime and I will do what I can.



  14. Despite everything else, I hope one day you are able to ‘come out’ to your mother. Not saying it’s going to be easy or without consequences but in the long run it may be best for the both of you. If you aren’t being honest with your mum then she may sense something isn’t quite right, and it could make things worse in the long run. I’m sure she wouldn’t be happy after you telling her, but do you think she might come to terms with it at some point? also you will be much more relieved afterwards.
    Having said all that, I can totally understand why you you haven’t done so at this point. I mean you know your mother and all and it sounds like you’re in a very difficult situation here. You will know when the situation is right though, and I would never pressure anyone to out themselves as that also would be bad.
    You wouldn’t necessarily have to use the dreaded A word, you could just say that you aren’t a Christian anymore or something similar. Again, not saying nothings going to happen.
    Anyways, I hope you guys manage to resolve this at some point. Peace 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. To me, church attendance has never equaled true Christianity. Some of the most moral and “holy” people I know are half-hearted Christians or even atheists. You can have a moral center without Christian sermons pounded into your head every week (though if you have a good minister in the area and they vary what they say, they can at least be a decent guide or give you something to think about–I used to like the thinkers who weren’t “prosperity” or “you’re/they’re going to hell” oriented).

    Oddly enough, my mother is one of the main reasons I stopped calling myself a Christian and stopped bothering to go. I admire her work ethic and that she wants to learn more about God, but when it comes to being around other humans, she makes me look positively popular (and I’m an annoying chatty introvert). It’s like she loves God but hates people. I was riding with her one day and she was listening to a sermon about forgiveness and getting past irritation and anger (looping around to prosperity gospel) and she was nodding along and saying “amen.” Then a car abruptly changed lanes and cut her off. She hit the brakes, slammed on the horn, and proceeded to scream “you mother******!” and a ton of other curses at the other driver, and then went on a diatribe about what the world was coming to, stewing about it all the way home while I bit my cheek and tried not to laugh at the irony. And then I sobered because I realized she’d ALWAYS done that…it just hit finally hit home.

    Yeah, that day told me actions speak FAR louder than sermons and church attendance, and that last straw–combined with get-rich-quick-schemers and con-artists (who are practically elders in their church, if I heard right) on the other side of the family…yeah, I was totally okay distancing myself. Maybe someday, if I find a good church leader that’s a thinker again and I can approach them, I’d be inclined to try again, but I doubt I’d still call myself Christian, just a student trying to learn…as usual.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow, how hypocritical. I think it’s interesting to hear any pastor preaching, because usually they say outrageous things that I can better myself from (and also write about). This is good because I have to hear a lot of preaching in my current situation. I’ve yet to hear something of real substance that was useful to me, but maybe if I got a chance to visit different denominations, the opportunity would arise.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think somebody called themselves non-religious. That fits me more–I think there could be a God, but honestly, this universe is pretty freaking big and I doubt it would spend all its time concerned with little mortal us and what we do. Remember Star Trek 4? The alien probe wanted to talk to humpback whales, not humans–I kinda think of higher powers the same way. Only we’re arrogant enough to think we’re the only intelligence on Earth worth talking to.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Chatty, you wrote: I think there could be a God, but honestly, this universe is pretty freaking big and I doubt it would spend all its time concerned with little mortal us and what we do.

          IMO, you nailed it! In fact, this has been my contention for a very long time.

          I recently asked this question on my own blog — if life were discovered on far distant planets, would they too worship the Christian god?

          Liked by 1 person

  16. I am terribly sorry you have to deal with this. All of you. I can’t say I fully understand or can empathize with what your feeling, I can if but a little bit. Having to keep up the facade so they would be without torment and broken hearts…

    This will sound hard after what I just said, but take it from the heart of the man who stated the above; it may be well to be honest. The closet Atheist, if you were honest with her, her heart would break, but it would be better than if you were to wait; the hurt would be deeper. That gulf that likes between you isn’t doing either very well. She wants her child, not a shell of a human being, and you want to keep the relationship, but as it is it is simply rotting away. I hope you’ll atleast consider this. Again, I am terribly sorry about the whole thing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your sympathy. It does help a lot.

      I actually agree with what you said. Sometimes we joke about whether she loves me more or if my boyfriend loves me more. The problem is that he knows the real me (that I’m an atheist) and her view is skewed because she loves someone who she thinks is her good Christian daughter. It would be nice if she knew the real me; she deserves it, even though she won’t like it.


  17. My mother is also the reason I am not out, for basically the same reason. Even just saying “not a Christian” would break her heart, and I’m afraid she’d do something desperate. Our relationship is good otherwise, so we’re just pretty much dancing around the elephant in the room.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I’m sorry to hear that you are going through this, and unfortunately, there are no good answers. While I don’t think religion is bad per se, the fact that in some religious traditions walls are built between us versus them and puts distance between people who would otherwise be close is bad. The belief that people who don’t believe the exact same things you do are evil and will go to Hell is a horrible one, that traps otherwise good people who are Christian into harassing and rejecting people they could otherwise be close to, and leaves those other people scared and hurt.

    I trust that you know your life, your mother, and your situation well enough to know how best to proceed, and I hope that you find peace and acceptance with however you decide to approach this.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, I appreciate your sympathy.

      I think it’s a shame anytime someone tries to group people and view them as “us” and “them”. I see this all the time from both Christians and atheists. At home, Christians (specifically LCMS Lutherans) are “us” and nonbelievers, or even non-LCMS, are “them”. On Twitter, atheists are “us” and believers are “them”. I find the divisiveness unnecessary and sad, and it prevents us from trying to understand each other and our views in order to find what we best identify as the real truth.


  19. I don’t call myself an atheist. Instead, I say that I am non-religious. And the reason is similar to what you are saying. The term “atheist”, as used by many people (including your mother) does not describe me. I’m not even anti-theist. I’m a “live and let live” kind of person.

    I actually think that some of the moral teachings of Jesus are pretty good. I can only wish that Christians would actually practice them.

    Maybe just tell your mother that you have dropped out of organized religion, and continue to avoid using the “atheist” word with her.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I agree with your perspective, Neil. In my case, I often use the term, “non-believer.” For some, “atheist” is just too harsh a word and has way too many negative connotations. And that’s too bad because it doesn’t mean you’re an “evil person.” You just don’t believe in the existence of any gods.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Thank you for saying that–back to basics is best. Christianity wouldn’t exist without Jesus, and yet we don’t seem to pay attention to the ideas ascribed to him. I’m going to be reading up on this over the course of the year, and get a gist for what Jesus was really for, because I’m tired of “prosperity gospel” or “sunshine and rainbows” ministry. The world is very complex and we’re just people trying to live in it. What would Jesus do? was a catchy phrase, but I don’t think many people have pondered it with the depth is deserves if they’re going for being followers of Christ. I’m starting to think there’s a profound difference between being “followers of Christ” and “Christian” as we know it today…hmm.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Exactly. I’ll avoid the A-word at first, which is a shame, because I attempt to normalize it and play a small part in removing the negative connotation from the word “atheist”. Nevertheless, I shouldn’t use it at first because she doesn’t know that it’s not a bad thing, and I don’t know if she knows what it is at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Hey! I have a similar situation. Although I did tell my mom and we do have a lot of fights about it I can completely understand ur points. My mom also had the mind set that atheist=sinner. I am a vegetarian and take not killing the animals part quite seriously. This one time she told me that if don’t follow our religion’s preaching why don’t I just go kill animals and eat them. I had to explain that morals does not equal religion. We have a lot of fights but she is coming to understand my point of view even tho that’s a pretty slow process. I am only able to communicate with her over this coz we both are the best of friends and always try to understand each other’s point of view although it might clash.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s interesting. It sounds like your story is what mine might look like in the future. Frustrating, but it sounds like it hasn’t destroyed your relationship. I’m glad that your different views haven’t completely gotten in the way of that.


  21. I know exactly what you mean, and I think you’re doing what YOU need to do which is paramount.
    If and when you do confront your mother with this, my feeling is, do it privately. And if you have indeed (and I suspect you have) led the ‘good life’ apparently as a Christian, bring that up to her. Tell her, you’re the same girl you were yesterday, and last week, and a year ago. Nothing about you is different.

    One thing that might help, when you graduate and go off to work, or at the very least move out of the house, you no longer will have to deal with the face to face daily stuff.

    This is also your business, no one else’s. But if you choose to put in in a public venue, a LOT of people will read it, and not everyone will comment at all.

    Liked by 4 people

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