Harmful to be in the "religious" closet?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Derkatwork, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. Derkatwork macrumors 6502

    Derkatwork

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    #1
    I am a closet atheist. I have been for years and my girlfriend (hopefully to be my wife) is the only person I have confided in. She is not the most religious person but says she feels like it is a good thing and feels better after going to church. I go along to church and say empty words as my mother is deeply religious. Living away from home for the past few years has made it easier, but the subject comes up often on trips home. I don't want internal strife within the family, but is it wrong or harmful to harbor this?
     
  2. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #2
    Yes- not being yourself is never a good thing and will put up more walls between you and your family. Your family will get over it eventually. If you pretend to be something you're not, you will end up resenting your family for it.
     
  3. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #3
    I kinda sort of am to my family. Select members know that I don't believe. Thing is, we're all very accepting so I just haven't really had a reason to bring up faith, or lack thereof.

    Tell them that you just don't believe, and if they truly believed in their own religion, they shouldn't have a problem with it.
     
  4. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #4
    Entirely not possible. A mother's love for her son is going to give her a problem with it if she becomes convinced that he's going to hell.

    I'm not recommending any action based on this possibility, I'm simply recognizing the difficult situation the OP is faced with.
     
  5. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #5
    It's never good to lie. Be yourself.

    My parents know I'm Atheist and don't care one bit. My religion on Facebook is "Atheist" so any other family who has friended me knows, and they've never said anything. The only one who doesn't know is my grandfather, because he would throw a fit and like me even less than he already does. I want him to know, I don't care if he knows, but my parents always lie to him. For example, he asked my dad if I would be joining them at temple for Yom Kippur services. Of course, the answer is no. My parents knew I wasn't going, but my dad lied to him and said yes I was. I get annoyed at that, because if he asked me, I would tell him the truth, but my dad doesn't want to start an argument with him (because with him, anything "wrong" with me is a failing on my parents' part).

    So it annoys me a bit that my parents lie about it to him. But I don't really talk to my grandfather all that often. I'm not his favorite of his 6 grand children, and the feeling is mutual, he was never my favorite grandparent until he got that position by default when my others sadly passed on. I would never lie to him because I really don't care what he thinks about me. The topic just never comes up in my conversations with him. But my immediate family and friends know and couldn't care less. I think my parents might take issue if I converted to another religion (especially if I became a born again Christian, LOL) but as long as I hate all religion equally, they're cool.

    And maybe it's easier in my case. I come from a family of reform Jews who were never religious (My parents stopped at Burger King after Yom Kippur services for lunch instead of fasting. Perhaps BK would've been incentive for me to go :D). And given that there's really no concept of hell in Judaism, it's not like they fear for me or anything like that. I don't know if it would've been as easy if my parents were religious Christians.
     
  6. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #6
    Personally I think the difference between a weak practicing Christian and an atheist are so small that it doesn't seem like a big deal not to tell them if it would upset them significantly.

    Even if you were an atheist and you went home at Christmas and everyone else was going wouldn't you still go to church? I would (ditto if I was visiting family who were members of other major religious festivals as appropriate).

    IMO if your family thought you were hyper-religious you should let them know that you aren't but whether you tell them a white lie doesn't seem to be a big deal. Its not like homosexuality where if you're in the closet you have to hide a big part of yourself - especially if you only see your parents occasionally.
     
  7. Rt&Dzine macrumors 6502a

    Rt&Dzine

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    #7
    I'm going to offer a slightly different opinion. Unless you want to be an outspoken atheist, I don't think it's wrong to go to church to make your mom feel better. Use church time to think about things.

    EDIT: Eraserhead beat me to it.
     
  8. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #8
    Oh BS. It's wrong to pretend to be anything you're not, simply for the comfort of others. I can't believe I'm hearing this, especially from you, Eraserhead.
     
  9. Mr. Chewbacca macrumors 6502a

    Mr. Chewbacca

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    #9
    I was a silent atheist for a long time, I didn’t care enough to take a stand. In my little world the local church is mostly a good thing, silly, but mostly good. That is not how it is in the rest of the world and reading books like “God is not great, how religion poisons everything” by Christopher Hitchens has forced me to look beyond my personal experience and view religion as a whole.

    Now that I have gotten interested in atheism I have spent more time looking into science and it has has made my world a lot more interesting.

    My mom is evangelical religious but lives in another state so we don’t have to bring it up much, if she still doesn’t know I’m an atheist than she is intentionally avoiding the subject. I don’t rub her face in it but I don’t try to hide it. My FB profile has me listed as a secular humanist. My Mom and most of the rest of my family are on my FB

    Lucky for me my dad is an atheist but didn’t discuss it with me until I was in my mid 20’s. He wanted to be sure not to influence me, allowing me to form my own opinions. I’m sure he was pleased that I chose rationality but he didn’t push it on me.

    Jeez I babble a lot, my point is that I still go to weddings and funerals in churches but nothing could possibly make me go to a church for worship. You have to find your limits, if your going to church every week you may want to consider speaking up.

    Try reading letters to a christian nation by Sam Harris, good short and to the point. It will help you to put your position into words.
     
  10. supercaliber macrumors regular

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    Aug 9, 2007
    #10
    Be careful. If your fiance is not atheist, and she will tell you if she is a closet atheist or not, then be extremely careful. Not being overly religious is nothing like atheism, it might just be a phase. My wife wasn't very religious but now she is a devout church goer.

    If you have any designs at having you and your spouse both becoming atheist at some point in the future, then that ambition might end badly. The same goes for her, if she has designs of converting you to God, she might end up failing miserably.

    I put religious compatibility above sexual compatibility and money in terms of long term marriage viability.

    Added respect for both of you by 100. Respect for others, especially parents and the elderly is not always convenient. My parents earned my utmost respect. I attended their congregation until I left home. When I visit, i go out of my way to attend their church. I am not faking anything, i am giving them time with their son of which they have little left.
     
  11. niuniu macrumors 68020

    niuniu

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    #11
    Get yourself out there and spread the word. Anytime someone throws that magic Jew nonsense in your face let them know you're not falling for any of it.

    Why do you have to shy away when others are happy running around talking utter tripe. You don't have to preach, but if it comes up in conversation, be yourself.
     
  12. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    Illinois
    #12
    You must go to church with your family, stand up during the sermon and proclaim your athiesm and declare that everyone there are sheep and fools, and anything short of that is heresy!

    Seriously, do whatever feels right. Don't worry about our opinions. Do what works for you.
     
  13. Shivetya macrumors 65816

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    #13

    Why bring it up with your parents? If pressed tell your parents its a private thing you need work out yourself, if pressed more then tell them you do not find fulfillment there.

    I go out of my way to not disappoint my parents. I will listen to subjects I may disagree with but I will never dishonor their beliefs or purposely antagonize them. Fortunately they are not believing anything I find abhorrent.
     
  14. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #14
    <shrug> I just think its better to have a slightly flawed relationship with your parents than no relationship at all.

    Obviously if you have major differences that isn't the case, but I don't think there is a major difference between a non-practicing Christian and a normal atheist.
     
  15. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #16
    Hopefully they don't go liberal on you in their old age. :D
     
  16. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #17
    True

    Go to church, do the song and dance, and appease your parents. Sucks for you, but your mom sleeps at night.

    OR

    Tell your mom you think she is a sucker and her god is false. Your mom spends the rest of her life worrying about your eternal damnation.





    Another thought: Many people lose religion then find it again later in life.
     
  17. niuniu macrumors 68020

    niuniu

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    #18
    Religion is such a guilt trip. You can't even confront someone that's affected without fear of ruining their life. Just look at some of the responses ^^

    Admittedly impressive how they've developed it.
     
  18. Rt&Dzine macrumors 6502a

    Rt&Dzine

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    #19
    Exactly. One of the best things I ever did.


    Of course, mcrain's idea is good too.
     
  19. supercaliber macrumors regular

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    Aug 9, 2007
    #20
    I would look at it like this. Religious people like my parents really believe that they have found happiness for them in their religion. It brings joy in their lives when others are even remotely involved in that happiness they experience. They do not like to experience joy in their lives alone, sharing magnifies the experience for them.

    I do not pretend to be a devout believer in their church. I am not pretending at all when I go and support them. I support them 100% in their religiousness, because it makes them happy and brings them joy. They are not getting joy because they perceive i am some brainwashed success story. They are having joy because they love their religion and they love to enjoy their religion with people they love.

    I find it interesting how you want to sully this experience, as though it is somehow immoral to spend time with others doing what they want to do. Like everything in the world Must only revolve around your own self interests.
     
  20. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #21
    Relationships built on lies, no matter how small, are bad relationships. The OP will eventually resent his parents more and more over time if he is not honest with them.
     
  21. Rt&Dzine macrumors 6502a

    Rt&Dzine

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    #22
    It doesn't have to be about religion. It can be about giving up your high ground to have a non-volatile relationship with a parent(s) before they are gone forever.
     
  22. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #23
    And also never giving your parents a chance to know the real you, which I think is completely chickens***.
     
  23. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #24
    Why do you have to resent them because they are religious?

    Another option is to simply tell your mom that you prefer to practice your faith in private, that church isn't for you. This is pretty much the truth anyways.
     
  24. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #25
    It's a natural response when doing things you don't want to do, or are actually against. It isn't something you do on purpose. It's a result of being repeatedly dishonest. I told mine a long time ago that I was not religious, and would not be going to church with them anymore. It was not said to hurt anyone or anything like that. I just was beginning to get angry at feeling obliged to do something I found to be abhorrent.
     

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