Telling loved ones that you are an atheist is a big challenge due to several misconceptions people have about atheism. One of the biggest misconceptions that people have about it is that atheism is a way of life that lacks purpose. Some believers feel that when you do not believe in a deity like they do that there really is nothing to live for, and that there is a void in the heart that cannot be filled with anything. Of course by now you know that is not true at all. You know that this life is it and that is why it is so important to make the most out of it.
Some atheists feel that it is hard to tell their family and friends that they are non-believers because of that judgment which some will be quick to make which may lead to being marginalized from social circles and even their families. Is that a good excuse not to tell the people who you love that you are a non-believer? here are some things to consider.
One of the main reasons that people keep telling those that they know is the fear of rejection from their family. From personal experience I can tell you that you are very likely to get a mixed reaction. While my siblings were mostly supportive with my brother also confirm that he was an atheist, my mother who was a church choir singer felt confused. My dad I found out was mostly an agnostic who kept going to church because my mom was heavily into it and due to being used to going and having a lot of friends there.
Your experience can vary depending on your own family and some have even had their families sever ties with them. The ones that were forgotten completely by their loved ones however would not have it any other way. They faced a choice of being true to themselves and to the world or keep pretending that they were someone who they were not. In the end when they go home at night they do not have to see themselves in the mirror and see someone who they are not.
When To Tell
The right time to tell people who you do not share their belief system is really a personal thing. I would never suggest that a teenager whose parents are religious fundamentalists to come out if they have no plan b for their home. There have been a few horror stories of parents making their teens lives impossible or even some that have been kicked out of their home because of their non-belief. Though cases when kids are thrown out are rare in the States, Canada and other western countries you need to think of your own personal situation because those things do happen.
There have also been cases where a kid is forced out of the boy scouts or even some schools because they are not religious. Damon Fowler is one of the more popular cases where a High School kid from Louisiana opposed prayer in his public school during graduation. After that Fowler received threats, was the victim of bullying and even told by his parents to leave the house who also cut off any financial support and left his things in the front porch.
Adults however have no reason to not tell their families. Once you are independent and can make it on your own they really should have little to no control and no one can kick you out of your own home. Your circle of friends is a different story because if they are very religious they may want to remove you from the community. Some people have felt that those who used to pretend they were friends started discriminating against them when they found out they were atheists. The good news is that if you tell your friends and they reject you because of your atheism, at least you are not losing any true friends.
There Is Support
If you find that you are being abandoned by family or friends there is always some support you will find. The number of atheists in the United States is growing so no matter where you are it is very likely that you will find someone who feels the same way as you. You may have seen some of the billboards that have popped up (sometimes vandalized) in different places in the country. Those billboards are there because people like you want to let you know that you are not alone and that you can talk to them if you need to.
The internet has also made it a lot easier to find people to talk to when you are an atheist. It does not take more than an online search to find people who do not believe in any deities. When tornadoes hit Oklahoma early in 2013, a lot of people found out that there are atheists even in the most religious parts of Oklahoma. That of course came as a surprise to Wolf Blitzer of CNN when he asked Rebecca Vitsmun if she thanked the lord for a split second decision that saved her and her baby; Rebecca’s answer was a very polite “I’m actually an atheist”.
More Atheists Than You May Think
In recent surveys the amount of people who declared themselves non-followers of any religion grew to 20 percent among those under 30. That is not to say that all of those people are atheists; a lot of them are agnostics or people who simply do not belong to a church. Even so that number has gone up a lot in recent years and the number includes a lot of young people means that soon the US will follow Europe in being less religious.
You have to also realize that the number of 20 percent is of people who were willing to talk about the fact that they are not religious. A lot of the people who do not believe in god are not ready to tell others about their lack of belief in a supreme being. It is also important to understand that only 7 percent of scientists in the National Academy of Science say that they believe in a god. That number shows that you are in good company and though most people in the United States believe in a personal god, it does not mean that they are right. Remember that at one point most of the people believed the earth was flat. It took science to tell them that they were wrong and even then some people still do not accept scientific evidence.