Forum: Arts / Religion

Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Mar 14, 2010 09:26 PM

In the last 24 hours, I've had issues with three of my family members, all centering around my lack of Christianity.

My brother regularly brings up hot topic issues, like abortion, gay marriage, Christianity, etc. to provoke me and then attack me, rather than attacking my belief system. It's really frustrating, because I specifically make a point not to bring up anything remotely related to my liberal/atheist beliefs. Finally, I sent him a long message telling him that I loved and supported him, regardless of religion and politics, and he hasn't answered back yet :(

Then, it gets even better. My cousin Jeremy and I are very similar. He's a strict atheist, and I'm an agnostic who leans toward the atheist side. Our aunt and uncle are extremely catholic, very intolerant. They have several kids, the oldest two about my age (20 and 21) are T and L. Jeremy and I are both Facebook friends with them, and while he'd sometimes argue with them, I've always gotten along with T and L pretty well.

The most controversial thing I've ever said to them was posting in defense of Jeremy in a debate on L's page, pretty much saying that "Keep in mind that Jesus was not a political figure and Christianity should not come with an official political party. Also, keep in mind to not bash non-Catholics. We all have our own spiritual paths, and we're all doing the best we can." That's it. I have never posted anything else relating to religion or politics. I make a point to wish them happy birthday, and congratulated them both the other day on their new jobs.

Now, I'm friends with several of you on here, and I don't deny that I join groups and fan things that could be considered controversial, especially to a very religious and conservative person. However, like I said, I try to keep my statuses tame and I never post things on other people's pages. I've been friends with T for close to three years and L for about a year, and have never had any issues. Last night, I notice that T is no longer my friend after going to her page to see how her job interview came out. I send another request, and shoot her a quick message saying "Hey T, I realized that we aren't friends on here anymore, and I just wanted to make sure I didn't say something to you that came off as offensive. If I accidentally did, please tell me so that I can apologize." This morning, I ask Jeremy if T is still his friend. Nope, and L isn't any more either. I check, and sure enough L has deleted me and I suspect he has blocked me. I ask Jeremy's sister, my other cousin, and she verifies that L still has an account. Jeremy and I can't see him because we were banned.

I send L two texts, pretty much just saying what I said to T, and nope, no reply. He messaged Jeremy a little while, and while there was no mention of me in it, the gist was that there is no point in being friends with Jeremy because he is an atheist who thinks he is better than everyone else. I then check to see if T re-added me, and she ignored the request with no reply to my message. They both obviously discussed deleting Jeremy and I, and did so at the same time. I can only imagine that it is for the same reason, my lack of Christianity, except I don't even warrant an email or text.

I'm baffled. Just Thursday, I was telling T how much she would love being a nanny, and that I was excited for her to get a job with a good family. L knocked up his girlfriend the first month they were dating (how Catholic, right?), and I have been nothing but supportive of him and his girlfriend keeping the baby. I make a specific point to never push my beliefs on them, or even debate, because I respect that they are how they are. I just am so hurt that my two cousins, my family, could do that. I know it doesn't seem like a big deal to many, but we've always been a close-knit family and it hurts to be so absolutely snubbed, without even an explanation. I'm so painfully goody-goody. I donate blood every 8 week, I donate to charities, I work my butt off in school and work, I am always polite to everyone, I do everything in my power to not stir up controversy with my family...I like to think I'm a pretty decent person, and now this.

I'm not sure what sort of advice is applicable here, but I just don't get how it's okay to write off a member of your family because you don't share beliefs. Like I said, it's so strange and hard because we have always been a close and loving family. My brother on the other hand is always a jerk to me about my lack of religion, but I'm used to that.

17 Replies to Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!

re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By celestia836
On Sun Mar 14, 2010 09:37 PM
*hugs* I'm really sorry you have to deal with that. Perhaps they'll come round eventually; perhaps not. If they don't, there's nothing else you can do, I suppose, other than remain to be as polite and lovely as you always have been. Honestly, you've done nothing wrong, and I hope that you don't let them bully you into feeling guilty for your beliefs. Personally, I think it's great that you both manage to stick up for your convictions while being careful not to say or do anything rude.

They may have taken it personally when you joined the 'controversial' fan groups, etc., but that is their prerogative. Somehow I doubt that even if you did tell them that nothing you did was meant to be offensive, they would still insist on taking it personally. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to change their reaction if they're going to be stubborn and immature. Again, continuing to be polite and friendly will make it increasingly difficult for them to have a case against you, as it were.
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By VelvetRagamuffinmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Mar 14, 2010 09:42 PM
I've defriended people/been defriended by others not because we hated each other but because I got tired of seeing stupid stuff they'd put on Facebook. I was telling one of my friends the other day "look, I love you to death, but I'm not going to be your Facebook friend anymore because you say some of the dumbest things I've ever heard about how awesome Sarah Palin is." She understood and we're still friends.
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By Cienmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Mar 14, 2010 09:42 PM
It sounds like you're trying to find out what YOU did wrong, when in reality, this is all on THEM. You're free to join whatever groups you want on Facebook, and if other people take enough issue with that that they feel the need to delete you (which is tremendously immature, p.s.), that's entirely their problem. If you were being respectful of their beliefs expecting them to be respectful back, well...you held up your end and they kind of failed you here. The only advice I can think of is to keep acting the way you have, because there's nothing wrong with it, and hope they come around at some point. :?
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Mar 14, 2010 09:42 PM
Thanks for the quick response :)

I just have a hard time believing that my latest "fanning" of "Let Constance Take her Girlfriend to Prom" could push them over the edge :? They've ignored it all so far, so I just can't imagine that this one little thing could suddenly push them over the edge.

I was going to edit my main post, but I'll just say it here. I would never deny my agnostic/atheist beliefs if someone asked me. I'm very happy and at peace with myself, and I think it's great when people find the line of spiritual thought that makes them happy. However, I just find that there is SO MUCH to talk about outside of the spectrum of religion. Movies, music, tv, sports, dance, current events, school, etc. It just depresses me that I make such a concentrated effort with them, and always have, to focus on our similarities, but they just find the differences and hate me for it :(
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Mar 14, 2010 09:45 PM
VelvetRagamuffin wrote:

I've defriended people/been defriended by others not because we hated each other but because I got tired of seeing stupid stuff they'd put on Facebook. I was telling one of my friends the other day "look, I love you to death, but I'm not going to be your Facebook friend anymore because you say some of the dumbest things I've ever heard about how awesome Sarah Palin is." She understood and we're still friends.


See, normally I would just think that...if it weren't for the nasty message L sent Jeremy :?

CienPorCientoPAZ wrote:

It sounds like you're trying to find out what YOU did wrong, when in reality, this is all on THEM. You're free to join whatever groups you want on Facebook, and if other people take enough issue with that that they feel the need to delete you (which is tremendously immature, p.s.), that's entirely their problem. If you were being respectful of their beliefs expecting them to be respectful back, well...you held up your end and they kind of failed you here. The only advice I can think of is to keep acting the way you have, because there's nothing wrong with it, and hope they come around at some point.


Thanks Grace :)
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By kandykanePremium member
On Sun Mar 14, 2010 09:46 PM
^ Well, then they are not 'practicing what they preach', so to speak, as one of the great lessons of religion is supposed to be forgiveness, that hate is wrong, to love your neighbor as yourself, etc.

Honestly, that is one of my top beefs with hard core religious people.

kk~
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By webstArmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Mar 14, 2010 09:47 PM
I'm sorry that your family insists on making religion an issue between you, especially to the point of getting rid of you on facebook. That's a real slap in the face. I firmly believe that family and friends don't have to share the same beliefs to a T. If you can keep hot-button topics out of your regular conversations, it shouldn't stand in the way. However, maybe they were honestly offended by the groups that you joined, and didn't want to see that popping up in their feed? I guess I'm trying to be optimistic..

However, to be completely honest, I've seen the occasional status that you've posted that just screams for someone who's rather religious to come up with some sort of ignorant comment - and this is coming from a SUPER easy going person in regards to religion and politics in public. What you post is completely your prerogative, but it's important to be aware that some things practically beg for a response. A lot of people like to keep religion/politics/hot-button issues off of facebook for that very reason. Almost like the dinner-table rule of thumb, you know?

You have to pick your battles and you have to know who to NOT talk religion with. Your brother is definitely one of them. Be the bigger person when he baits you. Instead of trying to have an in-depth conversation to prove your points, don't even let it get there. He's doing it to get a rise out of you, and he's getting exactly what he wants! Don't give him the satisfaction.

My mom's side of the family is very religious, somewhat ignorant, and a teensy bit racist. You bet that I keep my mouth firmly shut in family gatherings with them. It's totally not worth the wasted energy to try and debate them. I have plenty of other reasonable people to discuss more in-depth topics with.

Ps. Let me know if I was totally out of line with the facebook comment. I feel like a bit of a douche to bring "real-life" examples into your thread, but I think it's relevant.
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By MarlaSingermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Mar 14, 2010 09:58 PM
Edited by Jonelle (199601) on 2010-03-14 22:00:17
You actually might have pushed them over the edge by becoming a fan of that page. Homosexuality is a HUGE hot button issue for many conservative Christians, and this is a very well-publicized case that many people have strong opinions about. Sometimes it's hard to remember that someone's actions on Facebook aren't meant to rub anything in anyone's face. Someone does something, and it shows up on your news feed, and if it's something you find particularly annoying, it can be hard to take a step back and realize that chances are that the person in question wasn't thinking about you at all when they did it. So you became a fan of something that, in their minds, you would have known they wouldn't approve of, and it's entirely likely that they interpreted this as you rubbing your liberal views in their faces. So they got offended and unfriended you. If you value your relationship with these people, my advice would be to give them some time to cool off, then try again to initiate contact (NOT on Facebook). If there's still no response, you've done all you can, and you don't need to spend your time fretting about what you could have done differently, because it's their problem, not yours.
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Mar 14, 2010 09:59 PM
Edited by Kekoa (69553) on 2010-03-14 22:01:38
webstAr wrote:



Ps. Let me know if I was totally out of line with the facebook comment. I feel like a bit of a douche to bring "real-life" examples into your thread, but I think it's relevant.


Psh, no, not at all :) To be honest, thanks for pointing it out. I looked back through my last 5 weeks or so, and found a handful of statuses that could be taken as offensive. There haven't been any very recently, and since I update every day, it's easy to forget :P

So, to slightly correct myself...I have posted things relating to my beliefs as statuses, though that is usually the exception, not the rule. I guess it wouldn't hurt to keep in mind that while I just ignore people's statuses that bother me without getting offended, not everyone is like that. However, like I previously said...I don't go onto other people's pages and hash out my beliefs. I actually have a friend who posts several very religious statuses a day, and while it would be nice if she could post what she's been up to rather than scripture, it's totally her prerogative and I'd never think of saying anything to her.

Edit: Jonelle, I agree...however, the fact that both deleted Jeremy and I both at the same time (he's not a fan of anything relating to gay marriage on his), leads me to think it was bigger than the one thing.
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By DefyingGravityPremium member
On Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:05 AM
My dad's side of the family is very similar to yours. I don't have anything else to add other than, "I hear ya."
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By KayEllePremium member
On Mon Mar 15, 2010 01:42 AM
I don't know, I can kind of see where they're coming from. I had a FB friend who once said something I really, really disagreed with - something about how homosexuality no longer being illegal in India was terrible and inviting moral decay or something - and I immediately de-friended her. I figured I didn't need to see that kind of thing every day, and I don't want to be friends with people who believe that anyway! She wasn't my cousin, of course, but even if she were, I wouldn't want to be friends with her anyway, so why be friends on FB?

I could see how it could also go the other way, you know? I don't want to be in constant contact with someone who hates gay people, or who thinks women shouldn't have the right to choose, whether or not they are my family. So if I believed the opposite - gay people are totally amoral and gross, abortion is murder, whatever - and someone on my FB friends list posted about that kind of stuff, I'd probably delete them too.
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By LeSoulierVertmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Mar 15, 2010 02:51 AM
I can see where Kayelle is coming from, but in this case I think they handled it poorly. They obviously were in communication, made a decision, and left you in the dark, and now that you're trying to figure out what's going on, they continue to stay silent. How annoying! It sounds like you guys are in contact a lot, and so for them not to be upfront makes the whole siutation awkward and upsetting. I mean what are you supposed to do the next time you see them?

I would understand their side if you barely knew them, and weren't related. But the fact is, the way they went about this is going to cause drama.

And not to mention, pretty much goes against Christianity's important "Dont not judge, lest ye be judged" idea. I mean if they truly weren't judging you they would've been upfront and approached you with honesty and compassion, but instead they are shunning you and being passive agressive.

If this happened to me, I would say something the next time I saw them. I mean it sounds like you thought they were your friends, and now they've metaphorically slapped you in the face. Ouch! I wouldn't let them get away with that, but I would leave them be and get on with my life after I said my piece and heard them out. I mean you can either get upset and judge them for judging you, or you can accept their ideas and move on with or without them.

Good luck
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By Heartmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:00 AM
That sucks. I've been blessed (agnostic lol) with a religious side of the family that's smart enough to ignore my atheistic leanings and is all too happy to avoid controversial topics. The same goes with the liberal side of the family who carefully avoid political topics. If they're gonna be like that there's nothing you can do. Better off without 'em.
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By BgirlDoesBallet
On Mon Mar 15, 2010 01:34 PM
Like DefyingGravity, I don't have much for advice, but I can definitely relate. I'm Atheist and am totally open about it. I do have it listed on my Facebook, but I've never had a problem with that. Well, not until my mom got on Facebook anyways. She doesn't really mind that I'm Atheist (she doesn't understand it, but she's okay with it nonetheless), but she hates that I have it listed on my Facebook. To her, it's something I should keep to myself. So yeah, we've gotten in fights about that as well as liberal statuses that I've posted, usually around elections. So yeah, I kind of know what you're feeling right now, especially because it's coming from family, not just a few random Facebook friends.

Also, I just wanted to add that it's incredibly simple to block either specific people from your news feed or applications (like fan pages/groups). I'm not saying that the OP's cousins definitely unfriended her for something more than the pages she was fanning, just that if they did take offense to that, they easily could have just "hid" it while still being friends.
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Mar 15, 2010 06:24 PM
BgirlDoesBallet wrote:

Like DefyingGravity, I don't have much for advice, but I can definitely relate. I'm Atheist and am totally open about it. I do have it listed on my Facebook, but I've never had a problem with that. Well, not until my mom got on Facebook anyways. She doesn't really mind that I'm Atheist (she doesn't understand it, but she's okay with it nonetheless), but she hates that I have it listed on my Facebook. To her, it's something I should keep to myself. So yeah, we've gotten in fights about that as well as liberal statuses that I've posted, usually around elections. So yeah, I kind of know what you're feeling right now, especially because it's coming from family, not just a few random Facebook friends.

Also, I just wanted to add that it's incredibly simple to block either specific people from your news feed or applications (like fan pages/groups). I'm not saying that the OP's cousins definitely unfriended her for something more than the pages she was fanning, just that if they did take offense to that, they easily could have just "hid" it while still being friends.


Thanks. I had myself listed as "Agnostic" but totally removed my religious views after this. Not necessarily because I'm ashamed, but because it just causes drama. I get the "never tell anyone you're not a Christian" thing too, and it bugs me. I'm not going to run through the streets shouting "Woohoo, I'm an atheist!" but I shouldn't have to feel ashamed if someone asks me and I say what I am. Oh well.

I've probably said this before, but the hardest part is that we are all pretty close, have ALWAYS gotten along despite our differences, and Facebook was the only way to keep in touch since we now live 450 miles away, and L won't return my texts. I'm not about to call and hash out the drama, because if they won't even respond to a freaking message, they're not about to pick up the phone.
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:29 AM
Well, T finally responded to my message. According to her, she and L have been praying a lot over Lent and decided to cut out distractions, and she wants to focus on more personal forms of communication with family. I would believe her, if it weren't for the fact that the only family she has deleted is our non-Catholic side. I won't post the message out of privacy (personal details), but that was the gist of it. I respect her right to delete me, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't really hurt that she singled out our side of the family to delete (or out-right block, in the case of L).

I know that I shouldn't care, because it's only Facebook. But I think that's why it stings...it's Facebook. She can be friends with people from elementary school, ex-boyfriends, people she lives right by, but I get deleted? Obviously at this point, I have no desire to continue the relationship we had, and it's not like I would re-add her, but really...it irks me. I got my watered down explanation, I suppose I should be happy.

It's times like this I want to yell at my mother. She thinks I consider myself agnostic/atheist just to be "different." Given the family I have, this is one way I would love to be the same, but I can't.
re: Issues with Atheists/Agnostics...advice or support, please!
By Cienmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Mar 16, 2010 08:02 AM
Edited by CienPorCientoPAZ (147923) on 2010-03-16 08:05:37
Kekoa wrote:

I got my watered down explanation, I suppose I should be happy.

Psh. All this means is that now you don't have a reason to bug them about giving you an explanation anymore. You don't have to be happy with that excuse, though (I sure wouldn't be), especially if they've only deleted certain people.

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