A Bad-'God Bless America' Day
Cara Stevens Batt

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Cara Stevens Batt"
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: July 19, 2003 5:27 PM

Thanks for your letter: this is one of the more important questions that we've found ourselves discussing amongst the atheistic communities.

I wrote "Prayer as Intrusive Outburst" after a family gathering, after (wrongly) anticipating an oncoming group prayer and ducking out for a ciggie. (The whole family is aware that my entire side of the family has been unashamedly atheistic since long before I was born!) This column might be the main reason why I am no longer invited to family gatherings, and told "No!" whenever I've asked if I could show up: I have not seen any my family except a single visit from the parents since that day, making Christmastime (the traditional date of the family reunion) a living hell for the past three years!

Oh well! Live and learn! And be appreciative of the fact that a lesson from the School of Life could have been much more expensive than even this one was!

Then in the Letter, "Breaking The News To Mom And Pop," I show the important difference between the family and everybody else. Not that this is your situation, it is not; however, I would like to bring up one important possibility that a younger person in a similar situation of contending with the family might not be in a position to see. In the letter, I caution,

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

The family is a different story [from "the general public"]: Unlike casual friends or even close buddies (close enough to where your friendship would survive almost anything), your family will remain your core relationship for life. You could easily reach a point later in life where your family is all you have. I've certainly been there, and am very glad that I did nothing to seriously alienate my family (not that it ultimately did any good, but it sure helped smooth things over in the interim).

You will want to be very careful about breaking this news to your family. They will probably take the news of a decision not to pursue the ministry much easier than the news that you've become an atheist. Duh! But how to break it to them and when to break it to them (and whether to even break it to them at all) can be real tough calls. Some have had to pretend to their families in the face of ostracization. Others get along with their families just fine except over the religion, which is usually good for one serious "debate" at Christmastime or whenever the periodic family get-together takes place.

Only you can know the answer to this, and even then, you cannot guarantee the outcome of such a decision. All I can say is do not go in haste on this one, but think long and hard about which possible outcomes you are willing to live with for the rest of your life -- some people take their religion that seriously.

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

Obviously, I wrote this while I was still in my family's good graces! I wonder what happened?

In any event, I wish you well!

Thanks for writing!

Feel free to respond to anything I've said or pointed to above.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Eight years of service to people
    with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule