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Religion and Spirituality, Science and Philosophy Use this forum to discuss what you believe in. This is a place where everyone may share their views freely.

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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
Temperance Offline
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Post Agnostic.... - February 23rd 2013, 06:22 AM

I've just recently come out to the rest of my (very religious) family as agnostic, and I feel like it's kinda making me out to be the black sheep of the family.

I was just wondering if anyone else has been in my shoes, being agnostic, having a different belief system than the rest of your family, and if so how did your family react when you told them?

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Re: Agnostic.... - February 23rd 2013, 11:06 AM

I've actually just really come to terms with the fact that I really can't and don't believe in God, despite being brought up as a Christian my whole life.

I have to say, you're braver than me...I haven't told my family yet. So well done for being courageous enough to actually make your beliefs known.

I can't tell you how my family reacted (yet!), but I will just say that whilst it's probably going to seem awkward for a bit, it should hopefully just become accepted in time.

If you fancy PMing me about this, please do feel free to do so .

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  (#3 (permalink)) Old
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Re: Agnostic.... - February 23rd 2013, 07:10 PM

Hey there,

Well, I don't have first-hand experience of the situation myself. Neither of my parents are religious, so they obviously didn't mind too much when I told them I was atheist.

However, my next-door neighbour had a similar experience a few months ago. He comes from a staunch Catholic family, who weren't too impressed when he came out to them as agnostic. From what he told me, he felt a bit out of place for a while at first, but it blew over after a few weeks. So maybe you should just give it some time? You'll probably feel like the black sheep for a while, but hopefully your family will be a bit more accepting of it soon enough.

Best of luck with this.
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Re: Agnostic.... - February 23rd 2013, 11:14 PM

Hey there,

I can kind of relate. I believe in God but I am not sure if I can classify myself as Christian (still trying to work that out if it makes sense). However, I have a brother and some other family members who do not believe in God at all. I respect their beliefs and I try really hard not to push my views on them seeing as I don't believe this is the proper way to bring people over to the Lord or what have you. Anyway, there have been times when I have had jokes made at my expense and my belief in God and it does make me feel as though I am the black sheep of the family.

I think that because I believe in God people in my family have this stereotypical view of me at times, you know? The fact is I don't think there is anyway to make this feeling to go away except with time. I have found with time my family seems to be a bit more accepting of my beliefs and they have stopped making jokes at my expense. I admit they still make religious jokes at times but those don't bother me because I make them too and as long as they aren't directed at me I really do not care.

I know you asked for someone who was agnostic but I figured I could kind of sort of relate. I hope that with time you will find better advice or something! Best of luck and remember if you are following/believing what you think is right that is really all that matters. Yes, having a family that doesn't approve can be hard but how much harder would it be to believe something that you do not believe in?

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Re: Agnostic.... - February 24th 2013, 06:53 PM

I know through the experience of my friend. Her family is Anglican and she converted to Pentacostalism and this basically meant she went from a so-so not-so-strict Christian to a very devout Christian who believed a woman should "look" like a woman (skirts, really long hair, modest dress) and a man should "look" like a man (pants, short hair) AND believed in speaking in tongues and so on. Her parents legitimately thought she was part of a cult-like church. Before I carry on please realize that I am aware of the fact that not all Pentecostal churches are the same; there is the "traditional" version she belongs too (which includes the "dress code" for a lack of better words) and the "not-traditional" (which a friend or 2 where I go to school belongs too). And her parents tried to stop her from going to the church in favour of the Anglican church, which didn't work because the Pentecostal church was so close to her house, and they wouldn't buy her the long skirts so she had to get the skirts from friends for a while. Eventually they accepted that she wasn't going to give up on this and embraced it but for a year or 2 it was a challenge for her to freely practice in her family. I have a few other friends who've had similar experiences by converting to a new religion or leaving their church. My 2 friends who left their churches were basically kicked out of their homes despite the fact they still believed in god, choosing to live a different Christian lifestyle than what the church taught was to much for the parents, but that was because their families were Jehovah Witness and devoutly Pentecostal if that helps explain anything (not to intentionally pick on any denomination, this can occur to any demomination but understanding the specific beliefs of these 2 can help). Now for the first the longer story, well, this is basically the opposite of what you have done. But my point here being that I have seen a lot of parents/families resist their children/siblings/cousins/nieces/ etc leaving the church to varying degrees. But in every case after a period of time I have seen them reconciling with each other. Unfortunately this can take 6 months or this can take 2 years, but in my experience the disagreement usually resolves itself.
But I mean, my first friend for example, her family mostly just wanted her to be like what they percieved as "normal" and for them the Pentecostal beliefs were to extreme, aside from their resistance to her participation and her frustration over their not understanding her experiences were not actually as serious as my friends who were kicked out of their homes and overall austicized--her parents were NOT verbally abusive over it, they were NOT neglecting her or anything else, they just wanted her to stay with a less-strict denomination. And eventually they accepted it (they started buying her skirts much quicker than anything else, like within a few months cause she needed clothes she'd actually wear haha).
I don't know if this is necessarily helpful because as you can see every case is different. Some parents won't try to stop it at all, they might just question it a little and not truly accept it until they realize it's a decision that'll stick, some parents will just get on with life as long as it isn't going to hurt their kid, it really depends on the parents opinions when it comes to religion. But all in all I do think that, given that bridges aren't burned, that reconciliation can and will happen.

Feel free to PM me if you ever need to chat or have questions
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Re: Agnostic.... - February 25th 2013, 08:56 PM

Originally Posted by Temperance View Post
I've just recently come out to the rest of my (very religious) family as agnostic, and I feel like it's kinda making me out to be the black sheep of the family.

I was just wondering if anyone else has been in my shoes, being agnostic, having a different belief system than the rest of your family, and if so how did your family react when you told them?
My family, at least the religious part (those closer to me), are a little pushy with their religion. However, to be honest, I don't mind it. Why? Because, in their eyes I am going to Hell. Their pushiness means they care about me and don't want me to go there.

However, some of them seem to be in a sort of denial even though I've opened to them. Most of them have accepted it, but others just act like nothing has changed. For the most part though, I find that they aren't judgmental at all. They realize I will go my own road in the end.

The way that I told them was similar to what Dan Barker did. I told them essentially this: I was a Christian because I wanted to know the truth. I believed Christianity to represent that truth. As I began to think more, and study more, and realize that Christians were deceived, I fell away. I now consider myself an agnostic, borderline atheist because I believe it best represents the truth. I told them I prayed that if god were real, which I did pray, that he prevent me from becoming an agnostic/atheist, and that he reveal himself to me.

He hasn't done any of those things, and so, thus far, I believe I've concluded rightly.

However, my family was along side me as I struggled with my falling away from religion. They saw how intensely I studied, and how many countless hours I put into seeking the truth. I struggled for approximately 3 years, and read and studied religion for about 5-6 hours a day. So, my family wasn't too surprised.

But, I also studied a variety of topics. I studied doctrines, the history of the church, philosophy, how the biblical cannon was established, various creeds, etc. And I didn't just read atheistic perspectives. I read Christian perspectives. I then studied various sciences. My family saw that I was earnest and determined to find truth. Which is why I think they were accepting of it.

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Re: Agnostic.... - March 11th 2013, 06:37 AM

It's difficult when you feel "left out" of your family, no doubt. When it's about something so personal and so "important" as religion (I use quotes because it's obviously only important to the religious). I can't say I have ever been in this situation, but I wanted to reiterate what Adam said earlier: you should be proud of yourself for having the confidence to come out and tell your family what you are really thinking. I think that speaks volumes about your character, that you would rather "risk" a relationship (admittedly based on a lie) than continue to live in a lie, essentially a fraudulent relationship. Hats off to you for that.

Secondly, like Michael said, there is so much out there to study, read, and peruse over (if you have the interest). Who knows? Maybe as you study you might either return to your original starting point (of whatever religion you used to be), or you might continue in the current direction, either becoming an atheist or remaining an agnostic, but you'll increase your knowledge-base for explaining why you believe what you believe. I have met so many different people with a wide variety of beliefs, and I always encourage educating yourself in any philosophical/religious topic, because then when you feel like the "black sheep" as you said, you have the opportunity to share your new-found wisdom, and explain why you came to a particular conclusion (whatever that conclusion might be).

Best of luck to you! Keep us informed.
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