When Losing Your Faith and Becoming an Atheist Can Cost You Everything. Some Stories From Reddit of De-conversions in Evangelical or Fundamentalist Families

The other day I discovered a Reddit forum of former religious to include many evangelicals in their late teens or in college whose parents learned they they became an atheist. What happens next is heart breaking and hard to process. Stories of being disowned, even some violence and how some evangelicals and followers of Jesus act in fear toward their own flesh and blood. 

I’m often asked – and occasionally in an accusatory way – ‘Are you atheist?’ And it’s like, ‘You know, the only ‘ist’ I am is a scientist, all right?’ I don’t associate with movements. I’m not an ‘ism.’ I just – I think for myself.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:8 NIV

Evangelical Christians falsely claim and point to how they are persecuted in the United States. But the reality is that it can be the atheists, secular humanists and the de-converted who can face intense persecution often at the hand of evangelicals and those who claim to follow Jesus. The other day I was reading some threads at Reddit and found some discussions that were horrifying to process. They were stories of atheists who came out to their evangelical or religious parents.  Many of these stories are from late teens into early twenties and are sickening to read. What can a person of faith do? 

                  • Act in violence to the point where Child Protection Services are called.
                  • Disown their own flesh and blood. 
                  • Stop paying their child’s education tuition for college threating their future. 
                  • Accuse them of destroying the family. 

But there is another aspect that is stunning especially at an atheist community page. 

 

Atheists Discussing and Using 1 Timothy 5:8

Often what I have learned is that many atheists know and understand the Bible better than most Christians. Sometimes when a person is in the process of losing their faith they try and read scripture more to prevent that from happening. Or in other words there are some atheists who do not want to be atheists. And since many atheists used to be Christians they know scripture well. So in the discussions when a child is being thrown out of home or rejected and disowned by an evangelical they will discuss how Christians are often violating 1 Timothy 5:8. Its not in the post below, but it pops up in the comments. Here is what that verse of scripture says. “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Its yet another example of the hypocrisy of faith and what people who claim to follow Jesus can do when the use faith as a weapon against their own flesh and blood. I was stunned to see this but in the context it makes perfect sense. Many atheists know faith and the Bible better than evangelicals themselves. So with that I will let you read some of the stories. Some are hard to read.


I just got kicked out by BOTH my parents for renouncing Christianity. I’m only 16, is this legal?

After my parents told me they were suspicious of my non-faith, I just came clean. Now I’m sitting at my friends computer about a half-mile away. My friends are all telling me to call the cops on them. What should I do?


So I finally told my family that I’m atheist and have been for the past 3 or so years. This may be the biggest regret I’ve had in a long time.

I’ll start with some back story I was born and raised in a town of about 8000 in the middle of Ohio, US to a Mennonite family. They aren’t strict Mennonite but they carry along very conservative beliefs. So first I told my mom and her family, well rather it came up in discussion. Since then I’ve been continually told how I’m going to hell (which is an odd thing to tell someone of no religion, no?) and have had any financial help taken away to the point that I have 6 months to move out of the house.

Second after talking about it to my Dad (parents are divorced but that’s a different story) he talked to his entire family about it and now they refuse to say I was ever part of the family and I have been uninvited to everything. I am moving to a different city in the previous stated 6 month time frame and am extremely afraid of how alone I will be. I don’t keep a whole lot of friends to begin with. The only real salvation I’ll have is through various media and things I do (this isnt a plug so not putting details)

I apologize for the bitch fest I just needed to write this down.


So last night I told my parents I was an atheist and all (non-existent) hell broke loose. They think that they have lost a son and that I am not the guy they raised (I am nearly 17). They say that they are failed parents and that this is a complete disaster and are saying that they know I will turn back to Christianity and that they are praying for me, and they are so sure that their god will bring me back. I’m not yet sure if they’re going to force me to go to church every Sunday, but I really don’t want to have to go, and I’m not sure if I should all out rebel. They think that the internet turned me Atheist because I’ve been going on “bad websites” and they want to restrict my internet access regardless of whether I have homework or studies to tend to. Yeah it’s probably worth mentioning that they are very fundamentalists and everything is to do with God with them. They’re also scared that now I’m going to have a negative influence on my two little sisters (11 and 13). So yeah, nearly 17, I have 2 more years of being at home until I pack up and go to university, then I’m on my own. But until then I have to put up with all this, potential forcing to go to church and participate in religious ceremonies, cut off from the internet, constant arguments and them telling me I’m selfish and have no morals etc. Bare in mind I only told them yesterday, and my parents are EXTREMELY fundamentalists, very active in the church. Do you think it’ll get better over time and that I should ride out the storm?

EDIT: They said it’d be better for me to have converted to be a Muslim or a Jew or Hindu because at least then I’d have a god(s)

EDIT: I would try to all out rebel but they just use the guild tripping method, they make me feel really bad about all this.

EDIT: They won’t kick me out that’s for sure. And what you described is something I have already done, I told them once before and I came back saying it was just doubts and that i was all okay now.

EDIT: More guilt tripping just now, I’ve “made them feel like failures and bad parents and this is a disaster for the whole family”

EDIT: So my dad just took my phone. I think I’m just going to all out rebel. Go downstairs and just take it back. They need to fucking sort themselves out.


I’ve been avoiding telling them awhile which I know is probably not the best route, but I knew my parents wouldn’t handle it well. Unfortunately, I was right. They already get mad at me enough as it is (especially my mother) and this just pushed my mother over the edge. I was ready for screaming and yelling and disbelief, but what I actually got was silence and a door in my face as my mom left the room saying “she was done with me,” and “she can’t face me.” My father didn’t believe me as though I was lying about it, but then took me outside to talk and basically avoided that topic and told me I needed to apologize to my mother which I could not possibly do because she would not let me speak to her as she locked herself in her room. All of this in a matter of 5 minutes and the end result being my exit from the house. I’m fairly certain that I won’t be able to come around my mother for some time now. tl;dr : Mom won’t talk to me, Dad wants me to apologize.

Update: I cannot thank you guys enough for the support. The whole situation is starting to sink in and I’m actually really glad I came to r/atheism. I have very few atheist friends and this subreddit always seems to put me at ease when I’m frustrated over what people think or say about my lack of belief. I’ve been talking to my sister a lot and she told me she does not see me any different now and she’s only 15. This gives me hope that if she can be mature enough to realize I’m still the same brother she’s always had then maybe my sister and my dad can convince my mother to see how she is acting and turn her around.

Update 2: I got a phone call from my dad this morning. Things have taken a turn for the worst. I am now on my own with no money and phone shut off. I have to go back to school today and commence looking for a job to maybe get some money to pay all of my previous expenses as well as all the new ones. I can still say I don’t regret coming out. I do regret this reaction, however.

Update 3: Probably my last update for a while. I got in contact with my sister and she’s informed me that my dad is taking it really hard and appears to just be following mom’s orders. My mom demanded I be cut off and my dad apparently reluctantly obliged. That doesn’t really help me, but my friends are offering an enormous amount of support. Hopefully things will go well from here.


I generally spend all of my time alone in my room. All opinions are kept to myself. But today, today my mother is babysitting her best friend’s kids. Now, let’s call her “Meg”. Meg and her kids are super Christian, the kind that shove their opinions down people’s throat like a large penis. As I walked out of my room, her son, “Chris” asked me why I don’t believe in God. I told him that I found it illogical, then he continued on saying, “Jesus is coming, and he isn’t going to save you because you don’t believe.” I told him that I was offended, and still he continued. Just as I said, “I don’t believe in God.” my step-father showed up. He screamed at me saying my opinions were wrong, I was wrong. I just stopped, and went back to my room. After shutting the door, he kicked it open, I mean it’s in pieces as I type. He began shouting at me, telling me that, “this is a God-fearing house, don’t agree then get out, I don’t care about your opinion.” I calmly told him that my opinion is of my own, and he could believe whatever he wanted. Then he continued and told me to get out. He basically disowned me. I’m 17, no job, no car, nothing. What am I supposed to do? How do I handle this? It isn’t the “I’m older, I’m right” thing. It’s just, “I’m right.” I didn’t continue with my argument. Didn’t tell him he was wrong. But I’m wrong and I’m, “going to Hell.”


I was writing a paper for my university psychology class. We were instructed to include what we identify with (religion, sexual orientation, race, etc) and I wrote that I was an atheist. My mother ( a devout Christian) read the paper while I was away, and found this way that I am an atheist. She found me, and told me about how I was going to burn in hell and how disappointed she was. She said that she felt as though she had failed as a mother and that I needed to find new Christian friends.

I tried telling her that in the spirit of our times that she should be tolerant of my differing religious beliefs, just as I had never berated her for her Christian belief. She then told me that being an atheist was wrong and hinted that I would never be looked kindly upon by anyone again. I know this is not true.

At this point she told my entire family. My younger brother picked up one of her Bibles, and proceeded to physically strike me with it several times. She then said that she was going to tell my relatives and family friends. I suppose they won’t receive it well either, as they are all hardcore Christians as well.


My parents are Christians. When ever I told them I do not want to go to church they threatened to punish me physically. Today I had enough. So I asked them to sit with me and talk. I gave them my answer as to why i am not a believer. My parents immediately thought they could pray away my belief and my mom even read a passage on her iBible to me. They did not see why i was telling them this. They chose to ignore it. My father accused me that I will break up this family. I could not fathom why he would think that. “Can’t you see? Even if I don’t believe in God we are still a family, I am your son and you are my parents” I said. I cried. I saw my dad stand to leave, in my head my voice was screaming “please don’t go”. As he walked away he said ” I’m done, I am done with you, from now on I don’t want to talk to you”. Then my mom “If you don’t come to church with us I will not pay for your college, and i will return you back to Philippines and I will quit my job. I will wait for you down stairs for 10 minutes.” I laid to bed, crying. Thinking about what they both said. I knew my mum was bluffing because she needed to work 10 more years to pay off the house my parents bought prematurely. And they had to support my sister who is smart. With that, I felt relieved knowing I said what I had to say. I always considered myself a bastard. I never acknowledged my dad as a dad, I thought of him as an obstacle. Now i am here typing on my phone, relieved, sad and some what happy. thanks for reading guys, I just needed to share. If any one has some advice for me, that would be great. TL;DR Relieved, Sad and happy.

update My dad is slowly talking to me now. And my lovely mother is just being awesome despite what she said to me. But my dad is still not doing his job. Thank you to all the people who gave me advice! I will cherish it.

UPDATE Ok,

Not getting deported

Still going to College

I am alright

NEW UPDATE Today is my birthday, my parents have realised how badly they have acted towards my disbelief. They accept the fact that I am indeed an Atheist. We are still a family. They do not blame me for being able to think. They blamed themselves for being un – supportive to me. They kicked me when I was down. I was borderline disowned but I knew my parents had good hearts. I had hope. To some extent, me coming out as an atheist was a bad idea. But I had thought this through for the last 6 years. I had a plan. Now, being 17, I am glad life is restarting with me and along my family. I can only hope the religious parents of Agnostic/atheist etc. people would be as kind and understanding as mine. I have a long road ahead of me. But I feel new and content. Thank you all for reading into this. I am glad I have brought out kindness within in this community of religious outcasts. It gives me hope in the future of humanity being able to think for themselves and not be guided by others. I love you all. Just remember, be happy. Just like I am right now. Thanks to you all.


You’re thinking of coming out as an atheist to your fundamentalist parents?

Don’t. My family life is in tatters and I’m considering being ‘born again’. I don’t see any other way to repair this. The tears you will shed and pain you will endure over the rejection and disappointment of your parents are agonizing and irreparably heart breaking in comparison to the numbness I feel at the 1 hour a week in church that I’ll be going back to. I want to apologize to my heroes Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. I was not as strong as you two are and were. I had hoped i could endure it, but the pain of parental rejection is inconceivable until one has experienced it.


My parents found out that I’m an Atheist yesterday. They cut me off completely. No tuition. No housing. Not even money for food. I have two years left of college and a large pile of student loans. I’m currently working as a delivery driver for Papa Johns, which won’t work me full-time because they won’t pay for Obamacare.

Any advice?


I told her a few months ago I was atheist. She is hard fucking core Christian. She wastes her life praying and “giving her life to god”. She told me it was okay that I was atheist but just had a conversation with her about it. She said she never believed I was truly atheist and that I was just hiding from my true self. I looked her right in the face and said I’m atheist and god does not exist and even if he did I wouldn’t want to follow him anyway. She flipped me off and told me to live with my dad. Could have seen that coming but can’t understand why she didn’t believe I was atheist. Fucking religion. It needs to die. Soon


So, right now, my girlfriend of almost 1 year and I (we’re both 18) are a little bit shaken because of a big fight she had with her mother while I was at her house. She’s not very familiar with reddit, so we agreed that I would write this so we could get some sound advice and/or outside opinions.

A little background first: I was raised Catholic, but was never really enthusiastic about it. I started losing my faith a little over a year ago, and around September of 2012, I considered myself an atheist. My mom’s very Catholic, she doesn’t know about my beliefs, but I’m sure it wouldn’t go over well. My dad’s agnostic, he doesn’t really care what we believe. However, my family’s also really liberal. My mom is against abortion and birth control, but those are really the only issues she sides with the church on.

She was raised as a Southern Baptist in a very conservative household. Her mother’s beliefs can be summed up in one brief statement: She’s friends with Rick Santorum and did a lot of local campaigning for him. My girlfriend was never into politics, and just participated so she could fit in with her family.

It was a little awkward when we met. We both really liked each other, but she was very devout and still very supportive of Santorum, and I was about as left-wing as it gets. She didn’t know I was an atheist until about 3 months into our relationship.

I tried to stay away from religion and politics when we talked, but shortly after we met, she decided she didn’t really care anymore – she still supported Rick, but never talked about him. When the topic did come up, she was always fairly open. I cleared up some misconceptions she had learned (birth control is the same as abortion, homosexuality is a choice). She wasn’t too gullible, and instead of flat out believing me, she went and did her research to confirm it for herself. Every now and then I would get irritated by something someone said about atheists and would vent to her about my disdain for religion. She would listen, and never really argued back, but I knew she didn’t like it.

Anyway, a few months ago, she read a lot about politics, and decided she was a liberal. I was pleasantly surprised, as now we had some things to agree on – the thing we’re most passionate about was gay rights. She surprised me even more a few weeks ago when she told me that she believed in a god, but thought the Bible was complete bullshit. She also told me that she is bisexual (mostly attracted to dudes though, just occasionally finds some women attractive). She had been repressing it for a while, due to her thinking it was a sin, but when she did the research, she decided that an ancient book telling her that the way she’s always been was somehow wrong was complete bullshit. This was definitely surprising to me, but I welcomed it. We realized since we agreed on all the big stuff, that we had a great relationship that we couldn’t see going wrong in a long time.

So now that you know how things have gone so far, this is what happened today. I came over to her house after she asked me to come over, and she told me she had made the biggest mistake of her life. It turns out that her mother was watching Fox News while they were talking about DOMA and my girlfriend said something about how she was glad it was struck down. Her mom then gets into an argument with her about why it’s bad (It’s unnatural, because bible, people will marry dogs, etc) and at one point said “Why do you care? You’re not gay!” and she blurted out that she was bi. Her mother was pretty shocked and kept telling her she wasn’t, that it was just a phase, that she raised her and knows she is not bi, and that she’ll end up getting into polygamy and whatnot. My girlfriend also managed to blurt out that she didn’t believe in the Bible. Her mother then told her she could never mention her sexuality again or she would cut me off from her.

We just sat in her room for a while so she could vent to me. I was so furious. Her mother and I certainly disagreed on a lot of things, but we often joked about them, and never really argued. But I was just astonished as to how horrible a person can be to be so bigoted and to try to tell their daughter who they really are. After I cooled off, we both left the room, her to get some food and me to go to the bathroom. As I finish washing my hands, I can her my girlfriend crying with her mother shouting things like “You’re losing your relationship with Christ” and “You chose to be this way” I stormed out and resisted the urge to scream at her. I interjected at one point while they were arguing saying “She didn’t chose this”. Her mother then got mad at me and went on about how I was brainwashing her with liberal propaganda and turning her away from god. She also kept insisting that she was not bi, because she raised her better than that, and – get this – she didn’t start acting this way till she met me. So she pretty much thinks that I turned her bi. She then went on about saying she was going to get her pastor, my parents and a bunch of other people together to try to get us back on track. My gf insisted that it was not my fault and not to bring me into this (which I’m very grateful for, I would not want my mother to find out about me that way). She also upheld her threat to cut us off if it came up again.

She then ran away from all the screaming and locked herself in the bathroom with me where we both embraced and cried a lot. She then went and reasoned things out with her mom, and they agreed that if she never brought up her sexuality, we would be okay. So I went back home and am now typing this. I’m just disgusted. This pathetic excuse for a human being who does not deserve to be this loving girl’s mother is using her worthless religion to abuse her own daughter for being who she is. We should be okay for now, but I needed to vent, and I want to hear some outside opinions. Thanks.


3 thoughts on “When Losing Your Faith and Becoming an Atheist Can Cost You Everything. Some Stories From Reddit of De-conversions in Evangelical or Fundamentalist Families

  1. “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Its yet another example of the hypocrisy of faith and what people who claim to follow Jesus can do when the use faith as a weapon against their own flesh and blood.

    Because Christians would rather be RIGHT than Righteous in the original meaning of the term.
    “I’M RIGHT! YOU’RE ALL WRONG! HAW! HAW! HAW!”

    This also explains Christian Nationalism and Christianese More-Saved-Than-Thou One-Upmanship.

    Like

  2. So last night I told my parents I was an atheist and all (non-existent) hell broke loose. … They say that they are failed parents and that this is a complete disaster…

    From the second part of that excerpt, I get the vibe that said parents are overly focused on themselves instead of on their kid.

    EDIT: More guilt tripping just now, I’ve “made them feel like failures and bad parents and this is a disaster for the whole family”

    As in “LOOK WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

    The Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation is at heart a very selfish one.

    Like

  3. Yes, the parents are wrong. Fundamentalism is legalism, legalism is not Christianity…but you know that. The fact that you claim to have walked away from the faith and are atheist, yet spend an inordinate amount of time searching for stories and posting about how wrong Evangelicals are is staggering. I don’t believe in the flat earth theory and spend literally no time thinking about it, but the God you don’t believe in seems to consume your every thought. Yes. there are sinful Christians as well as evil posing as Christians…not an execuse…just a reality. Why hunt for stories to sooth the hurt you feel? Does it actually help?

    Like

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