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Thread: Owning your atheism

  1. #1

    Default Owning your atheism

    We met a lovely homeschooling family today at the library. Dd, my introvert, and the older daughter were drawn to one another immediately and went off together for the duration. Mom was friendly and we chatted easily. She brought up God several times in conversation, at least 6 times. She also asked me if I had a home church, and when I said no, highly recommended hers. I just smiled. Said nothing. Changed the subject. Before we parted, she handed me her contact info and asked for mine, wanting to get together sometime.

    I feel like I need to get it out of the way, at least that we aren't Christians. My gut feeling is that she will care to know, that she was fishing for it during our conversations. And how silly is it that I am afraid she won't want to be friends with me!? Dbf says next time she brings it up to say that we take a world view approach in teaching our children about religion and do not follow any particular faith. I actually think that sounds ok (less severe than the dreaded "a" word) but I do not want my kids to think we have to be ashamed of our beliefs.

    How would you handle such a situation. I know it's easy to say if she doesn't like me for that, probably not worth investing in the friendship. But dd has been talking about her new friend since we got home.

    (Any Christian friends peeking in, please feel free to respond. I wouldn't mind your viewpoint but thought better to post in here.)

  2. #2
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    I would probably be honest and get it out of the way, especially if she specifically asked about a home church. I would say no, although we respect such beliefs in others we do not practice and are not interested in participating.


  3. #3

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    I can see why you'd be concerned -- if she mentioned faith-based things several times in an initial conversation, it's probably something that plays a big role in their family life. And occasionally a difference in that area can be a challenge. I don't blame you for wanting to ease into the conversation. For me, I don't generally use words like atheist, agnostic, etc. in those situations. When someone asks where we go to church, I just say with a friendly smile, "Oh, we don't attend church. We're not religious." I haven't had anyone press further until they knew us better and wanted to ask specific questions. If they did ask more, then I'd probably reply with a short, mild version of my truth. (Mine would be something like "I was raised Lutheran, but we don't practice. We are secular humanists.") If they pressed even further, I would probably get uncomfortable, and it would likely be a sign that we would not be compatible friends.

    I totally understand your wanting to promote friendship with someone your dd clicked with so easily! They sound really neat. I hope it all works out for you guys.
    -- mom to DD1 1/98 and DD2 10/09


  4. #4
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    I just keep it simple "Oh we're not really religious." with personal things like belief systems/politics/health matters....less is more until I REALLY know someone.

    Jennifer, 35, DH 36

  5. #5

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    I do not consider myself an Atheist nor do I consider myself a Christian at this point for now I am not sure if it matters in this opinion I think it really depends on your comfort level. If she doesn't mention it at the next visit if you aren't ready to discuss it then wait but, if she would bring it up that's probably when I (if in your shoes) would mention that you are an Atheist and not practicing religion but, you love how the children are getting along and do hope they can be friends. I hope she can have an open mind so both your children and hers don't miss out I feel like in this day in age it shouldn't have to be a secret but, sometimes people can still be more closed minded. I really like how Pepperlu words it Secular Humanists. I guess I do also think real friends shouldn't care about these topics James and I have a friend and he loves debating about this stuff but, we are still friends at the end of the day because we all of know we aren't trying to hurt each other. I hope for everyone's sake they can see goodness in a person regardless of beliefs. Everyone wants to be accepted so I understand your concern of the "what ifs".
    Last edited by mom2CodySophia0811; 01-29-2014 at 04:19 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pepperlru View Post
    I can see why you'd be concerned -- if she mentioned faith-based things several times in an initial conversation, it's probably something that plays a big role in their family life. And occasionally a difference in that area can be a challenge. I don't blame you for wanting to ease into the conversation. For me, I don't generally use words like atheist, agnostic, etc. in those situations. When someone asks where we go to church, I just say with a friendly smile, "Oh, we don't attend church. We're not religious." I haven't had anyone press further until they knew us better and wanted to ask specific questions. If they did ask more, then I'd probably reply with a short, mild version of my truth. (Mine would be something like "I was raised Lutheran, but we don't practice. We are secular humanists.") If they pressed even further, I would probably get uncomfortable, and it would likely be a sign that we would not be compatible friends.

    I totally understand your wanting to promote friendship with someone your dd clicked with so easily! They sound really neat. I hope it all works out for you guys.
    I agree with Gretchen!

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    I don't really label us anything because A) who needs the label, B) we really don't identify with any one religion, C) no need to use the "a" word unless you are passionate about it. If you identify as an atheist and have strong beliefs as such then by all means say it. Otherwise I would just along with what dbf suggests *can't believe I actually agree with something he said lol*! We generally say as some have mentioned above, "we don't practice or follow any one religion" or "we kind of do our own thing". Adding labels like "humanists" or "world view" could make one sound snooty and "above religion"....and that is not to say anyone who identifies that way is. I think it could come across that way to someone who does follow a defined religion.

    Unfortunately I think this person sounds like someone who is EXTREMELY religious and may have a hard time being close friends with someone who is not. I can't imagine someone mentioning religion or god that much upon first meeting. I hope that turns out not to be the case!
    Thing 1 (7), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (2)

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    Christian friend popping in.

    I wouldn't be put off, shocked, offended, etc., in the slightest, no matter how you put it (so long as it wasn't phrased in a way that condescended my beliefs, of course, which I know you would not do.) It would not affect my desire to be friends with you or anyone else. I choose my friends by (to quote Dr. King) the 'content of their character', not their religious beliefs. I hope she is the same, and that this turns out to be a great friendship, both for you and your daughter.

    ETA: I should probably add that since I was agnostic and searching for many years, I am very familiar with the different religious/worldview labels. If you flat said you were atheist, you would not have to explain it to me and I wouldn't be shocked at the idea of it. Some people who have never questioned their beliefs, and/or spend most their lives surrounded by people in one belief system may not be that way, so I can understand where you are coming from.
    Last edited by KC's wifey; 01-30-2014 at 08:51 AM.

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    I have gone through a fundamentalist Christian phase and while I was in it, I can imagine being like the lady you met. It's a very intense feeling, that you really feel like you have to share, one that I chuckle at now. I have friends who converted around the time I did (early college age) and almost all of them are still very much into it and like the lady you met. I find it hard to have conversations with them because it seems like they can't say anything or have a thought that doesn't involve their (and I have to be really clear on that) God. I'm glad that it fulfills the need in their lives, but I really am over it and wish they could get that I really don't want to hear about it.

    I hope that if you do give her the hint that she backs off and can just enjoy you as a friend.
    Natalie [31] DH [40] 9/01, 1/06 NaturallyNatalie's Hair Accessories!

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    Another Christian friend popping in...be honest. As long as you weren't mocking of my beliefs we could still be good friends and so could our children. I am also much more interested in character than religious beliefs.
    Jessica (32) and Ryan (32). Madelyn born August 5, 2009; Malachi born December 23, 2010 and Nathaniel born July 19, 2013. Lost a loved baby 02/29/12, 05/14/12 and 07/05/12 all due a serious allergic reaction to fabric softener.
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    The other room mom is religious. We are friends. But, she has never actually asked me about my religious beliefs. She might assume, based on where I'm from, that our beliefs are different, although if she asked, I would be honest with her. We have shared values, so I don't expect that telling her would change anything.

  12. #12

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    Another Christian popping in. I would just be honest. A couple of my closer "mommy" friends are not religious at all. They have not come out and explicitly told me that they are atheists, but I would not be surprised if they were. They are still great friends, and our children enjoy each other. The only issue we ran into was when one of them scheduled something for us on Sunday morning, not realizing that some of us attend church during that time. The other one has a BIL who is becoming a minister so she knows how to word things when talking about religion without offending Christians too much.

  13. #13

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    Thank you so much for understanding! I appreciate all of your advice and do feel better now. Although, I did dream about it last night. Lol.
    I am comforted that my Christian friends here don't seem to think it will be an issue.

  14. #14

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    When do you plan on seeing her next? I hope it all goes well.

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