So, about 3 months ago, maybe 4, I read Richard Dawkin's book, and decided to just accept my lack of faith. For years, I had none, but tried to believe, just in case. After reading the book, I decided that I was lying to myself and anyone else by professing a belief I didn't have, and let it all go.
Anyway, so I've got a few non-believers around me, including my husband, and my cousin's baby-mama (soon to be wife, we hope). My father in law leans towards atheism, but I think he's mostly just against organized religion, not really that he doesn't believe.
My side of the family, however, is very, very religious. It's weird. They rarely go to church, but when I finally shared with my mom that I was atheist, she freaked the hell out. Tried laying a guilt trip on me about how she'd failed as a parent to instill a belief system in me, etc, tried scaring me with eternal damnation (which really only works if one believes in eternal damnation, just FYI). My brother, in the epitome of hypocrisy, shook his head and told me he would pray for me. My brother... who hasn't been to church since, I don't even know when.
For the most part, people seem to respect that Sean (my husband) and I are atheist, and are going to raise our sons towards that (naturally, if they do believe in a higher power, we will let them pursue that to their heart's content, but I will not raise my boys to be Sunday Christians, where the only good they do is on a Sunday morning, but that will be the case, beliefs or no). But every once in a while, we have these encounters where, in order to keep the peace, Sean and I have to back down and keep quiet.
So tell me... how did YOU break the news to the people you're close to (particularly if they are believers)? Was it as big a deal for your families as it was for mine? And do you find yourself in the same boat, having to be the peacekeeper?
I was raised as an atheist my parents are ok. My husband's family are all super-wacko loony Christian hypocrites. I don't really tell real life people my lack of religious beliefs because it's none of their damned business. One of my husband's Baptist minister uncles harassed me and harassed me until I told him I was currently studying Buddhism (I neglected to mention as a philosophy). I'm a bad atheist that way. I'm not all in your face like PZ Myers. The prohibition against telling anyone when I was little was so ground into me that until recently, I didn't even tell people online. I'm a tad vocal online but not in real life. I just can't deal with the bullshit I'd get. There's one woman at work who'd pray me to death and probably bring in Billy Graham to help her (if he's still alive) because she knows him personally. My kid doesn't even know -- I answer questions about god with generic "some people believe there's a god, mommy and daddy aren't sure" and tell her that we "just aren't church people" when she asks why we don't go to church. In a couple of years I'll discuss it further with her but she's still at that age where she's still very impulsive in her speech. School is hard enough on kids without dealing with the harassment an atheist around here would get (and, yes, she would be harassed around here, she came home from school one day and told me that her best friend told her that Obama killed babies and ate them for breakfast so that gives you an idea of the intelligence of the people who live near me). I teach her openly about evolution and science and we watch shows on PBS, Discovery, etc. When she's old enough to admit she doesn't believe in Santa Claus (she thinks she's pulling the wool over my eyes right now), I'll start talking more openly about our lack of beliefs. (Yes, I celebrate Christmas and Easter as a societal tradition.) So I guess from a Christian point of view I'm the dressed in 's clothing.