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Tried to have a conversation...
#1

Tried to have a conversation...
About 18 years ago I came out as an atheist to my christian family.  At first, nobody seemed to care.  Even when I posted atheist memes on facebook.

Recently one of my nieces (we'll call her 'Lisa') posted a religious meme that I thought was condescending and rude.  I should have kept my mouth shut, but I didn't, I decided to try to have a conversation.  I asked her questions, she responded, a bit of back and forth, nothing uncivil or rude.  I quickly realized we were not going to find any common ground and I didn't want her to get upset, so I ended it as politely as I could.
A few moments later I DMd her to apologize if anything I said upset her and she said it didn't, we chatted a bit more, and that was that.

About 5 minutes later her father (my brother, we'll call him 'ken') replied in the thread telling me to 'stop being a dick', then immediately followed up with a text message to my phone telling me that I had been the black sheep of the family for years and that I had "chosen my path".

I decided to draft an email to him to try to keep the peace.  While I was writing, I saw that he had unfriended me on facebook, my own brother.
I spent some time editing the email and mostly finished it, but I wanted to get my wife's input and she had already gone to bed, so I left the draft and went to bed myself.

First thing the next morning, my other brother (we'll call him 'steve') added to the FB thread, asking what was wrong with me and why would I pick fights with family?, a direct personal attack insulting my choice of 'hobby' (computers, no idea where that came from), and telling me not to respond.  
Well, you can't just attack someone publicly and expect them to not defend themselves, so, I did.  I replied that I wasn't picking fights, Lisa and I were having a perfectly civil conversation, she wasn't even offended, so why are you?
Moments later he, too unfriended me.

so, I finished my email to Ken and sent it, what I wrote was as delicate and peaceful as I could make it, extending an olive branch, trying to smooth things over. etc..
At the end I even promised to never again discuss religion with anyone on FB, even if they asked.
That was yesterday morning, so far he hasn't even read it.

I'll give it a couple of days and write another email to Steve...

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I just do not understand why the religious take a civil conversation as some kind of direct attack on themselves.
I understand religion is a sensitive subject, but can't we even discuss it?
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#2

Tried to have a conversation...
It's hard being at odds with your siblings. I sympathize. In the end, you might just have to admit that this is more their problem that it is yours and move on. I say that knowing full well that that's easier said than done.
Formerly WiCharlie Sun
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#3

Tried to have a conversation...
It sounds like your family was willing to just not address the issue until they felt for whatever reason that you forced it.* I agree with Charlie, you did nothing wrong and the problem is primarily their fragile / tender sensibilities ... that of course assumes you weren't actually being dickish but given your telling of the story I highly doubt it, you seem kind to them to a fault. But theists can stomp off from even the most civil discussions, as some of them think that simple disagreement or failure to be impressed with what they are impressed with is some kind of deliberate slap in the face.

I think you just were indirectly asking for understanding from your family that it is unable to give you. Some thoughts aren't thinkable to them. I feel for you because my parents and 3 older siblings have given me zero grief, even the one brother who is still an observant fundie. But that is the exception; a lot of us do lose our support system through shunning.

* For example, they might see young "Lisa" as having her faith and trust in god under assault even if she didn't claim that, therefore you are a Bad Influence. Believers of that sort often understand on some level that their faith is fragile and indefensible, though they'd never admit it. Point that out in even the mildest way and you are a Defcon 7 threat.
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#4

Tried to have a conversation...
Their beliefs are fragile and do not hold up to scrutiny well. They take it as a threat to their way of life and the chance at the golden ticket.

I made a pact with my family that we won't discuss religion seriously. On the other hand, good-natured teasing each other is still allowed.

(i wish you had used Barbie, not Lisa)
Being told you're delusional does not necessarily mean you're mental. 
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#5

Tried to have a conversation...
Religion makes people act like assholes.

It is the one thing it excels at.
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#6

Tried to have a conversation...
(01-08-2024, 09:51 PM)Minimalist Wrote: ... Religion makes people act like assholes ...

Man You Got That Right

They think they own the universe and they alone have the privileges of how to utilize it.  This naturally leads to arguments that produce yet more corpses.  Mankind's problem is waiting until these zealots become corpses BEFORE shipping them to the Moon.
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#7

Tried to have a conversation...
(01-08-2024, 07:44 PM)Rad Wrote: About 18 years ago I came out as an atheist to my christian family.  At first, nobody seemed to care.  Even when I posted atheist memes on facebook.

Recently one of my nieces (we'll call her 'Lisa') posted a religious meme that I thought was condescending and rude.  I should have kept my mouth shut, but I didn't, I decided to try to have a conversation.  I asked her questions, she responded, a bit of back and forth, nothing uncivil or rude.  I quickly realized we were not going to find any common ground and I didn't want her to get upset, so I ended it as politely as I could.
A few moments later I DMd her to apologize if anything I said upset her and she said it didn't, we chatted a bit more, and that was that.

About 5 minutes later her father (my brother, we'll call him 'ken') replied in the thread telling me to 'stop being a dick', then immediately followed up with a text message to my phone telling me that I had been the black sheep of the family for years and that I had "chosen my path".

I decided to draft an email to him to try to keep the peace.  While I was writing, I saw that he had unfriended me on facebook, my own brother.
I spent some time editing the email and mostly finished it, but I wanted to get my wife's input and she had already gone to bed, so I left the draft and went to bed myself.

First thing the next morning, my other brother (we'll call him 'steve') added to the FB thread, asking what was wrong with me and why would I pick fights with family?, a direct personal attack insulting my choice of 'hobby' (computers, no idea where that came from), and telling me not to respond.  
Well, you can't just attack someone publicly and expect them to not defend themselves, so, I did.  I replied that I wasn't picking fights, Lisa and I were having a perfectly civil conversation, she wasn't even offended, so why are you?
Moments later he, too unfriended me.

so, I finished my email to Ken and sent it, what I wrote was as delicate and peaceful as I could make it, extending an olive branch, trying to smooth things over. etc..
At the end I even promised to never again discuss religion with anyone on FB, even if they asked.
That was yesterday morning, so far he hasn't even read it.

I'll give it a couple of days and write another email to Steve...

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I just do not understand why the religious take a civil conversation as some kind of direct attack on themselves.
I understand religion is a sensitive subject, but can't we even discuss it?

Don't send further emails or FB discussion. Don't discussion religion around the family holiday table. Family is genetic, not a discussion group among peers. All you try will just distance you from many relatives.

I will someetimes engage theists in chat like here. But I will never discuss it among family. You can't win at the family dinner table.
because it isn't about logic. It is about sharing a dinner with your closest genetic relatives.

If some family member emails you saying "we sure agree", that's great. Talk your heads off about what you agree on. But don't argue with "crazy Uncle Ralph" while the turkey is being passed around. That never helps. Big Grin
Never try to catch a dropped kitchen knife!
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#8

Tried to have a conversation...
Look up 'Christian Privilege' and 'Atheist Discrimination' in wiki. The first paragraph of each tells the story.
Being told you're delusional does not necessarily mean you're mental. 
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#9

Tried to have a conversation...
(01-08-2024, 09:51 PM)Minimalist Wrote: Religion makes people act like assholes.

It is the one thing it excels at.

To be a great Xian you need you be an awful person
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#10

Tried to have a conversation...
Well said, Sam.
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#11

Tried to have a conversation...
(01-08-2024, 07:44 PM)Rad Wrote: ...a direct personal attack insulting my choice of 'hobby' (computers, no idea where that came from)...
In my worldview: the believer and god share the same mind (that being the believer's mind, god only exists in their head). In that light: when you expressed skepticism of the existence of god (or whatever you said, it really doesn't matter), as far as the believers are concerned, that was vicious attack on them. Anything negative you say on the subject will be interpreted as direct attack on the believer in question.

You were screwed from the start, imo.
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#12

Tried to have a conversation...
(01-09-2024, 02:19 AM)rocinantexyz Wrote:
(01-08-2024, 07:44 PM)Rad Wrote: ...a direct personal attack insulting my choice of 'hobby' (computers, no idea where that came from)...
In my worldview: the believer and god share the same mind (that being the believer's mind, god only exists in their head). In that light: when you expressed skepticism of the existence of god (or whatever you said, it really doesn't matter), as far as the believers are concerned, that was vicious attack on them. Anything negative you say on the subject will be interpreted as direct attack on the believer in question.

You were screwed from the start, imo.

That's why discussing religion at the family holiday meal does no good. It is perceived as more personal.
Never try to catch a dropped kitchen knife!
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#13

Tried to have a conversation...
Yes, indeed.  We can discuss it dispassionately because we think the whole thing is shit.  They cannot do that.
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#14

Tried to have a conversation...
(01-09-2024, 02:38 AM)Cavebear Wrote: That's why discussing religion at the family holiday meal does no good.
I haven't had any problems like that since I stopped admitting people to my home who reject the germ theory of disease!

Sorry, just too dangerous to let you in!
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#15

Tried to have a conversation...
(01-08-2024, 11:37 PM)Cavebear Wrote: Don't send further emails or FB discussion.  Don't discussion religion around the family holiday table.  Family is genetic, not a discussion group among peers.  All you try will just distance you from many relatives.

I will someetimes engage theists in chat like here.  But I will never discuss it among family.  You can't win at the family dinner table.
because it isn't about logic.  It is about sharing a dinner with your closest genetic relatives.  

If some family member emails you saying "we sure agree", that's great.  Talk your heads off about what you agree on.  But don't argue with "crazy Uncle Ralph" while the turkey is being passed around.  That never helps.   Big Grin

Well, I do appreciate your reply, but just FYI- we dont have any family dinners, we all live in different states.  But your point is understood.
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#16

Tried to have a conversation...
(01-09-2024, 03:38 PM)Rad Wrote: Well, I do appreciate your reply, but just FYI- we dont have any family dinners, we all live in different states.  But your point is understood.
My family is the same way.

I had 3 older brothers, one is dead, one is still ardently fundagelical, one is best described as religiously indifferent but not really willing to overtly reject religion, either.

The 2 surviving brothers are about a thousand miles away and as such absent real effort we probably talk by phone a handful of times per year and physically see each other maybe every 5 years or so, and since both are considerably older than I, any physical visit is pretty much on me or it won't happen.

As such it has been possible for "fundie-bro" to tell himself that I'm just going through a rough patch and will come back eventually. If I saw him on the regular though I would be an irritant and he might well become belligerent and insulting. He's kind of an asshole by nature anyway.

Maybe that is what happened here, the "don't ask don't tell" implicit agreement was violated by you openly discussing your unbelief with someone in the family and now he's abreacting to that. Give him some time to cool down and see if he will agree to trust you on not discussing religion even if asked. And then be true to that.

If he permanently frosts you then you just have to accept that is the way things are. It isn't your fault, you did nothing wrong. You just failed to read minds and wanted to be understood for a change. Nothing to regret. Disappointed (in your brother's behavior for example) yes, but not regretful. It will be a loss, but how much really if you're not that close anyway?
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#17

Tried to have a conversation...
Rad,

I'm more of a deist who aspires to christian ethics than an atheist, but my beliefs differ greatly from the Christian fundamentalism of the rest of my family, and I can really relate to this experience you are having with your brother because I have experienced it with my own family members.

It can be very unsettling -- really, heart-wrenching -- when your own "blood" distance themselves from you due to a doctrinal disagreement. You hope that they'd love you no matter what, but you discover to your dismay that there are limits:

"I won't love you if you don't say  that 1+1 = 3 !!!!!!"

A very wise friend told me something helpful about this: "It is not them whom we are fighting against, but the trance they are in."

To some extent, Rad, you are very threatening because somewhere deep within themselves, a part of them knows it's not all true, and you are a reminder of that. It is a threat to their entire worldview.

If I may give you some unsolicited advice:

1) Try to smooth things over with your brother and have whatever limited type of relationship with him you can. Keep things light with him, and steer the relationship toward things you both like and agree on, whether that is funny movies, watching football, etc. A good friend of mine calls this approach "eating around the rotten parts of the fruit." I find with my own family that things go well if you can keep from triggering their brainwashing.
2) Keep the nephews/nieces/kids out of it.
3) Be the most loving, kind, rational, happy, productive person you can be, and let your life demonstrate that a free-thinking person free from religious indoctrination can be on top-of-things and successful in life, with your own version and search for spirituality.
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#18

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Sorry you're going through this. Probably (for me at least) it's one of THE worst issues I have with religion, the systematic destruction/damage to human relationships, the epitome of evil if you ask me.
The whole point of having cake is to eat it Cake_Feast
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#19

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I totally agree. I am friends with a cousin of mine who hasn't talked to her older sister in years. I am friends with both of them actually. The older sister is now dying of lung cancer. Despite the fact that they both go to church, and the younger sister has even taken a course to be a church layman minister, do you suppose they can put their petty differences (and they are petty) aside and make up before the older sister dies? Heck no!

When I went to visit them two summers ago, I had to see each separately so they didn't have to be in each others company. I'm always so tempted to say to the younger sister, "As a lay minister, are you not supposed to show love and forgiveness?" I don't though. No, the younger one has even proclaimed that she is not going to go to her sister's funeral. What is the point of being a Christian?
Formerly WiCharlie Sun
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#20

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(01-10-2024, 10:06 PM)WICharlie Wrote: I totally agree.  I am friends with a cousin of mine who hasn't talked to her older sister in years.  I am friends with both of them actually.  The older sister is now dying of lung cancer.  Despite the fact that they both go to church, and the younger sister has even taken a course to be a church layman minister, do you suppose they can put their petty differences (and they are petty) aside and make up before the older sister dies?  Heck no!

When I went to visit them two summers ago, I had to see each separately so they didn't have to be in each others company.  I'm always so tempted to say to the younger sister, "As a lay minister, are you not supposed to show love and forgiveness?"  I don't though.  No, the younger one has even proclaimed that she is not going to go to her sister's funeral.  What is the point of being a Christian?

I know just what you mean, 'Ken' has been very very religious for a looong time, yet his behavior towards his family has always been much much less than 'christian'.  On many occasions he has made our mother cry.   When our mother was dying of lung cancer he found out that he didn't get their house in the will.  He got mad and left the state while she died.
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#21

Tried to have a conversation...
Family relations and Wills can get weird sometimes. My Mom's side was very Catholic. So she was my Godmother as a sister of Mom. I never needed the "GOD"mother relationship, but I sent cards and a few letters each year. One day, I got a letter from her saying that if I didn't visit her soon, she would "forget me". She was rich, so I took that as a Will threat. I chose to ignore it.

One Christmas, my card was returned "undeliverable". Same for my sister. So after unsuccessfully searching about her, I hired a detective local to the area. $200 later, I was told she had gone into assisted living. The surprise after that was that I received a call from a younger nephew-in-law of hers demanding to know who I was and why was I searching about her.

I explained "godmother", family connection (I was a direct nephew). He was from her husband's side of the family. We actually had a very good conversation. It turned out that his side of the family lived near her and had been caring for her for a while. He was concerned I was making a claim on her wealth. Well, I'm not exactly poor myself so that didn't matter to me. When he finally understood that and I just explained I was concerned about her, he calmed down.

She died, I have never heard from the other side of her family since. They don't know me. I don't know them. My godmother/aunt had a full good life. That's all that matters.
Never try to catch a dropped kitchen knife!
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