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Thread: An atheist in a Catholic family

  1. #1 An atheist in a Catholic family 
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    I brought this up last year, and I want to do the same again and see what people think.
    My family is Catholic, I'm atheist. Every year I go home for Christmas and I'm fully expected to go to church with them. The past couple years I've started to resist this somewhat and last year I was told that I'd "ruin Christmas" if I didn't attend mass with them.
    On principle, I really would like to refuse to go. It is absolutely ridiculous to expect a family member who doesn't share your religion to attend service with you.
    Actually sitting there for an hour isn't the worst thing in the world. It's the principle of why I am disrespecting THEIR beliefs if I don't go being so much more important than them disrespecting ME by trying to FORCE me to go that is so friggin annoying.
    Religion is irrational. Trying to force it on others is unbearable.
    On principle, there's no question that I'm 100% in the right here. Is that principle worth disrupting the holidays? Is there a way to approach the subject to lessen the disruption?
    That's partially why I'm thinking on this now - bring it up early this year, give it plenty of time to set in so it's not a big dramatic issue when December rolls around.
    It's kind of sad how society in the U.S. looks down on atheists. I thought Jesus taught tolerance but hey, I'm no Bible expert.
    What's the move?


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  3. #2  
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    religions are sects.What They say is irrational, so the only way for them is to force people to believe....


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  4. #3  
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    you could tell them that blackmail, especially of the emotional kind, is not a very christian thing to + they're forcing you to live a lie as well
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  5. #4  
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    You can fake being sick or get a friend to call you and tell you he needs you cause he crashed your car into a tree. :wink: If you really think you shouldn't go to something you don't belive in don't go, you won't be able to lesson the disruption but eventually they'll accept you not going but I say go with the first two ideas.
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  6. #5  
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    The correct move is to go to church with them. You don't have to say anything but at least get up when everyone else does and kneel when they do. Geez, their your family so stop being a spoiled wuss.

    I go to church every Sunday because my dad likes it when I go with him and I love him enough to do it. What he doesn't realize is that I am an atheist.... I don't believe in any of it.

    I'm just not a wuss.

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    Good girl, Bee. I'm sure your dad appreciates it.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bettina
    The correct move is to go to church with them. You don't have to say anything but at least get up when everyone else does and kneel when they do. Geez, their your family so stop being a spoiled wuss.

    I go to church every Sunday because my dad likes it when I go with him and I love him enough to do it. What he doesn't realize is that I am an atheist.... I don't believe in any of it.

    I'm just not a wuss.

    Bee
    Well you pointed out the difference yourself - you are pretending that you aren't an atheist. I am not pretending that I believe a word of what is being said during church. Maybe you're more a wuss than you think if you can't be truthful with your own family.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Good girl, Bee. I'm sure your dad appreciates it.
    My entire family consists of just him and me. We love each other.

    Bee


    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    Quote Originally Posted by Bettina
    The correct move is to go to church with them. You don't have to say anything but at least get up when everyone else does and kneel when they do. Geez, their your family so stop being a spoiled wuss.

    I go to church every Sunday because my dad likes it when I go with him and I love him enough to do it. What he doesn't realize is that I am an atheist.... I don't believe in any of it.

    I'm just not a wuss.

    Bee
    Well you pointed out the difference yourself - you are pretending that you aren't an atheist. I am not pretending that I believe a word of what is being said during church. Maybe you're more a wuss than you think if you can't be truthful with your own family.
    Lets look at it another way... Which one of us is hurting our family? I hope you don't come back and tell me your the one being "hurt"

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  10. #9  
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    Being lied to is more hurtful than not going to a mass. Its not like he's saying because I'm an athiest i never want to see you again. Another way to look at it is like if you don't like fishing, then is your family still going to ask you to fish?
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bettina
    Lets look at it another way... Which one of us is hurting our family? I hope you don't come back and tell me your the one being "hurt"
    Bee
    Well that depends. Would your father be more hurt if you don't share his faith, or if he found out that you've been lying to him? If it were ME I'd much rather be told the truth than be lied to and I think most people would prefer truth. I mean if it's my 85 year old grandmother who wouldn't really understand too well why I'm not there that's one thing, but in my case it's just my parents we're talking about. People who already understand that my beliefs and theirs do not coincide. Saying "just pretend" doesn't really work when 1) I'm not going to lie to them and 2) They already know better anyway.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trix
    Being lied to is more hurtful than not going to a mass. Its not like he's saying because I'm an athiest i never want to see you again. Another way to look at it is like if you don't like fishing, then is your family still going to ask you to fish?
    He is only talking one day a year....

    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    Quote Originally Posted by Bettina
    Lets look at it another way... Which one of us is hurting our family? I hope you don't come back and tell me your the one being "hurt"
    Bee
    Well that depends. Would your father be more hurt if you don't share his faith, or if he found out that you've been lying to him? If it were ME I'd much rather be told the truth than be lied to and I think most people would prefer truth. I mean if it's my 85 year old grandmother who wouldn't really understand too well why I'm not there that's one thing, but in my case it's just my parents we're talking about. People who already understand that my beliefs and theirs do not coincide. Saying "just pretend" doesn't really work when 1) I'm not going to lie to them and 2) They already know better anyway.
    The atheist admission would hurt my dad much more than the lie. He thinks that when he and I die we will be together in some heaven but I know we won't. There is a large gap between us....he is 68 and I'm 19.... so I tell him I love him every single day.

    You can be the spoil sport every Christmas and give your parents grief to satisfy your own selfish reasons, or for that one day, you can go to their place of worship as a family and make them feel good.

    Yes, I'm ragging on you because you asked my opinion in your OP.

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  13. #12  
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    You can be the spoil sport every Christmas and give your parents grief to satisfy your own selfish reasons, or for that one day, you can go to their place of worship as a family and make them feel good.
    That's certainly a valid point and one I've pretty much agreed with. I've gone to church every year with little/no fuss, and every week when I was growing up.
    There just comes a point where it's time to stop pretending I'm something I'm not. You see it as selfish, I see it as truthful.
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    I can't help but laugh at the stupid irony. You do realize you are sending mixed messages, right? How the hell can you go home and celebrate CHRISTmas, the made up date for celebrating Jesus' birthday, but then get all pissy about principles? If you want to make a stand I'd do it there, at least then your stance has consistence. I have to agree with Bettina, either you just never thought it all out, or you just like to pick and choose when to be offended, which is just stubborn.
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  15. #14  
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    Maybe you live in a different country, but Christmas can hardly be considered a religious holiday in large part. It's been more about Santa Claus, trees, and presents than Jesus for a long time. It's also when you get time off work no matter what your religion is.
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    No matter how you square it, it's based around religious traditions. Not specifically Christian traditions, it's a hybrid between religions, but faiths of which I'm sure you don't believe in. You wouldn't be the first to celebrate things you don't believe in just because it's popular or fun, but doing so doesn't exactly earn you points in your defense against not doing something on principle.
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  17. #16  
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    I agree it's based on various faiths. Don't think I ever claimed otherwise. But that's not the focus of the holidays for a majority of people, including and most importantly myself, regardless of what its roots are so your point isn't particularly strong.
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    Actually my point is solid. You stated that you did not want to go to mass on principle, despite the fact that you had been told it would ruin the holiday for the family. If you said that you didn't want to go to mass because it's boring, you don't believe in all that crap and don't care about anything but getting and giving gifts, laughing and eating then being on your way, my point would not be strong, it would be outright that you're being a baby about it, but my point would in fact be weak. And even though that is most likely how you feel about the holiday and all that stuff, you're claiming to be driven to certain action out of principle. My meaning is that you are trying to excuse yourself from your own actions, from the cruel act of 'ruining the holiday' as your family put it, by grounds of principles that you don't truly dedicate yourself to but rather use for the sake of your own selfish impulse. It's a useful deception until someone in your family gets smart to the hypocrisy and then becomes bitter towards you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Happydude
    Actually my point is solid. You stated that you did not want to go to mass on principle, despite the fact that you had been told it would ruin the holiday for the family. If you said that you didn't want to go to mass because it's boring, you don't believe in all that crap and don't care about anything but getting and giving gifts, laughing and eating then being on your way, my point would not be strong, it would be outright that you're being a baby about it, but my point would in fact be weak. And even though that is most likely how you feel about the holiday and all that stuff, you're claiming to be driven to certain action out of principle. My meaning is that you are trying to excuse yourself from your own actions, from the cruel act of 'ruining the holiday' as your family put it, by grounds of principles that you don't truly dedicate yourself to but rather use for the sake of your own selfish impulse. It's a useful deception until someone in your family gets smart to the hypocrisy and then becomes bitter towards you.
    Well, the principle applies whether it's Christmas mass, Good Friday, or just April 23rd. The issue only happens to come up at Christmas, but that doesn't change the principle of trying to guilt someone of a different belief system into church with them. If I lived at home and didn't go to church with them every week you couldn't raise your point. And as the principle is the same 52 weeks a year - you still can't raise it with any validity.
    I'm curious - if I DID live with my parents (or in the same town even), do you think it would be fair for them to expect me to attend mass with them every week?
    What if I were Mormon or Jewish instead of atheist?
    Try and respond in a civil manner in the future, I have no desire to converse with people that demonstrate your level of hostility. People can disagree without calling each other babies, hypocrites, and what have you.
    Rational, mature people can at least which I assume for now that you are.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    People can disagree without calling each other babies, hypocrites, and what have you.
    Rational, mature people can at least which I assume for now that you are.
    Well, I for one, apologize for calling you a wuss, a spoilsport, and a selfish person. I should have kept those to myself. Anyway, I hope its ok to say that IMO your dead wrong and I side with your parents. They seem to have a family spirit that many don't have.

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  21. #20 Re: An atheist in a Catholic family 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    I brought this up last year, and I want to do the same again and see what people think.
    My family is Catholic, I'm atheist. Every year I go home for Christmas and I'm fully expected to go to church with them. The past couple years I've started to resist this somewhat and last year I was told that I'd "ruin Christmas" if I didn't attend mass with them.
    On principle, I really would like to refuse to go. It is absolutely ridiculous to expect a family member who doesn't share your religion to attend service with you.
    What's the move?
    Well, Neutrino, if I said I hadn't seen this before, I'd be lying, so if you want my honest advice, here it is:

    Just do it. Go to church, do what people expect, and try to enjoy what you can.

    Seriously. And why? So it's a little pain once a year that makes your family happy...and it can't hurt you. No one is expecting you to walk away converted, and there's no harm in playing along. Yer not degrading yourself or your beliefs if you choose to make a small sacrifice for the sake of your family.

    And think about it from their angle. They, being theists, don't understand why you don't understand THEM. As theists, it makes them just as upset that you don't want to come, as you are at coming. From their perspective, your not coming to church threatens your soul. You may not agree with that yourself, but both sides have to give a little.

    I liken this problem a lot to various points in my life where I've been staying with friends, and they've invited me to attend a religious or cultural ceremony/event. Let's take my one friend, who's Buddhist. Out of respect for his traditions and beliefs, I've gone into temples and gone through the basic steps that are considered polite and customary. Even though I don't personally believe in it per-se, I know it makes my friend happy, and truth be told it has been another experience in my life that I would not have known had I not tried it. I suppose I could have said "no," and waited outside, and I know my friend would have probably accepted that. This is probably different from having a family who insists, rather than requests, but I hope you get the gist of my tale.

    The same applies to the times I've gone to mass with Catholic friends, even though I generally dislike much of the Catholic ways.

    More in line with your problem, I actually experience the same problem with my own family, to a degree. My family is Methodist, and although we don't go to church regularly, my mother tries to get us to go for Easter and Christmas every year. I go. In a way it makes me feel better, and it makes my mother happy. I won't sing, though, and I find some of the "rituals" annoying, but that's just because of my own particular take on religion and faith. I can connect with the teachings, the sermon, and the people are friendly and it's good to be with people during the holidays...but I put up with the rest just for the sake of my family.

    Perhaps it seems wrong, but it has served me well in life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Happydude
    No matter how you square it, it's based around religious traditions.
    Christmas may be religious, but trees, decorating, gift giving, and nearly all the rest, has nothing to do with religion. It's more cultural than anything else. (This is one reason I get so ticked off when people pipe up about setting up a tree at the office or in public.)
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    Yeah I think I pretty much agree with you Wolf and I'l probably just end up going. I think what has bothered me the most is the reasons they give for why I should go. If they would have said "It's a family tradition and it's important that we do it as a family, even if you don't believe" I don't think I'd really have ever had a problem with it so long as they understand I'm not going to praise God, but to be with the family. But because they give me "You're disrespecting our beliefs if you don't go", I don't really buy it because I don't believe that reason holds water.
    However since I was basically given that reason "on the spot" and they didn't really have much time to think about it, I think I can cut them some slack. It is more about family than respecting their beliefs I think even though that isn't the reason I was given. If they had a little time to reflect on it I have a feeling that's what they'd tell me.
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  23. #22  
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    It's hard with family, on those kinds of subjects. You don't want to offend them, but at the same time you don't agree with them.

    As parents, it's their responsibility to look after the spiritual well-being of the family. That often means giving guidance concerning what to believe, why, etc. Problem is, not very many people are good at discussing the issue.

    My aunt is a dyed-in-the-wool theist. Every once in a while I get into a theological discussion with her, but for her, the idea of someone being an atheist means they're "lost from God." She truly believes that hopefully one day they're sort themselves out and go back to their faith. As nice as that may be, it's a lot of wishful thinking sometimes.
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    Not an important point, but I remember reading something about the origin of the tree actually coming from a religious custom far before Christmas, and being about Mother Nature. Most anniversaries have deep rooted connections to faiths and superstitions, such as the lit candles on a birthday cake having old superstitions related to appeasing spirits.


    Neutrino, I realize what I said offended you, and I expected it to do so. However it wasn't a personal attack as you think it to be, but rather a rational observation stated with brutal honesty. Perhaps your hopes were to receive matching views to your own simply to assuage any guilt, and of course I did not help at all with that, but you did not directly ask for reassurance in your actions, you asked for personal opinions. I stated my view, nothing more. My use of words were not displayed in such context that it would truly be a strike at you, though I do not deny that I described my view of what was truly happening, explaining that my conclusion was that it wasn't a matter of principle as much as it was a matter of lack of principle. And though I did state that I considered the action hypocritical, I did not with any intention act to strike or judge your character, merely the situation.

    Although I obviously disagree with the course of action you decided to take, I do sympathize with you. Things like that can certainly be difficult and awkward to go through.
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  25. #24 Re: An atheist in a Catholic family 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    I brought this up last year, and I want to do the same again and see what people think.
    My family is Catholic, I'm atheist. Every year I go home for Christmas and I'm fully expected to go to church with them. The past couple years I've started to resist this somewhat and last year I was told that I'd "ruin Christmas" if I didn't attend mass with them.
    On principle, I really would like to refuse to go. It is absolutely ridiculous to expect a family member who doesn't share your religion to attend service with you.
    Actually sitting there for an hour isn't the worst thing in the world. It's the principle of why I am disrespecting THEIR beliefs if I don't go being so much more important than them disrespecting ME by trying to FORCE me to go that is so friggin annoying.
    Religion is irrational. Trying to force it on others is unbearable.
    On principle, there's no question that I'm 100% in the right here. Is that principle worth disrupting the holidays? Is there a way to approach the subject to lessen the disruption?
    That's partially why I'm thinking on this now - bring it up early this year, give it plenty of time to set in so it's not a big dramatic issue when December rolls around.
    It's kind of sad how society in the U.S. looks down on atheists. I thought Jesus taught tolerance but hey, I'm no Bible expert.
    What's the move?
    I know what you really are. It is common in our country to destroy each other's religion. You are a protestant who wants to make us think that Catholic Families have atheists sons. Some "atheists" in forums like this and chatrooms are communists from China in disguise to destroy Religion that keeps the people support Democracy. Well, Protestants and other religions have atheists sons too. I hate this kind of hate thread. I have no religion but I don't want to be labeled as "Atheists". An "Atheists" label in your ass is just as dirty as "Catholic". I'm better than you.
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  26. #25 Re: An atheist in a Catholic family 
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    Quote Originally Posted by youdiehard
    I know what you really are. It is common in our country to destroy each other's religion. You are a protestant who wants to make us think that Catholic Families have atheists sons. Some "atheists" in forums like this and chatrooms are communists from China in disguise to destroy Religion that keeps the people support Democracy. Well, Protestants and other religions have atheists sons too. I hate this kind of hate thread. I have no religion but I don't want to be labeled as "Atheists". An "Atheists" label in your ass is just as dirty as "Catholic". I'm better than you.
    Wait so which am I? Protestant, atheist, communist, or what? Please let me know as soon as possible so I can spread the appropriate propoganda.
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    Nice try Happydude but you aren't allowed to hide behind rationality. "I can't help but laugh at the stupid irony" is not an objective statement of rationality, it's a rude insult. It's very easy to talk about this topic in a tone that actually IS objective and rational, but some people choose not to approach it that way. Fine, just don't pretend otherwise.
    Now let's clear something else up, I'm not offended by any comments in this thread. I think there's a right way and a wrong way to approach topics of a personal, subjective nature like this and I realize some people are going to choose what is in my opinion the low road. That's to be expected on any forum on any topic. And like everything else in this thread I'm sure some people disagree with me. It's subjective.
    Nothing you say is going to offend me, however everything you say alters my opinion of you.
    You probably care about my opinion of you about as much as I care about your opinion of me, but it is what it is.
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  28. #27  
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    <sarcasm>
    Maybe you need to kill your family then blame it on the media and lack of government regulations?
    </sarcasm>
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  29. #28 Re: An atheist in a Catholic family 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    Quote Originally Posted by youdiehard
    I know what you really are. It is common in our country to destroy each other's religion. You are a protestant who wants to make us think that Catholic Families have atheists sons. Some "atheists" in forums like this and chatrooms are communists from China in disguise to destroy Religion that keeps the people support Democracy. Well, Protestants and other religions have atheists sons too. I hate this kind of hate thread. I have no religion but I don't want to be labeled as "Atheists". An "Atheists" label in your ass is just as dirty as "Catholic". I'm better than you.
    Wait so which am I? Protestant, atheist, communist, or what? Please let me know as soon as possible so I can spread the appropriate propoganda.
    Shhhh.....don't feed the troll. :wink:

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  30. #29 Re: An atheist in a Catholic family 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bettina
    Shhhh.....don't feed the troll. :wink:
    Seriously. Isn't there a report thread function here?
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    Whether what I said was rude or not does not change the fact that I did bring out my point with a clear objective logic. If I sought to insult and insult alone, I would have, rather I followed up my statement with my observation. I will admit that my first comment wasn't the most constructive, but my behavior following after that was completely done with an objective and rational tone. I realize you aren't thrilled by the fact that I spoke without bothering to do so with a polite and diplomatic tone, however I had already come to the conclusion that my observation couldn't be said with tact. But I'm always willing to be proved wrong, if you'd like to take up the challenge of wording my statements in a more friendly manner worthy of making my point without offending, while retaining their meaning, have at it!
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  32. #31  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Happydude
    Whether what I said was rude or not ...have at it!
    Bettina and I aren't talking about you, dude. Read the quotes.
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    Umm, I was replying to Neutrino...
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    Ah, nevermind then. Yer response didn't have a quote and came right after ours, so it seemed that way.
    Wolf
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    "Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they're fair with you." Alan Alda
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  35. #34  
    Forum Freshman Tony John C's Avatar
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    I've been where you have been Neutrino, where I didn't want to go to church, I viewed it as a waste of time. Difference is when the kiss of death is but a hair's breadth away from you, and you miraculously get away,(not unscathed, just with your life) it rocks your world. Just wait, you'll have your chance, and one little hint, It will be utterly terrifying.

    I'm not trying to tell you to do anything, or believe anything, but just wait for that thing that will shake you to your core. Then you will know if you ridden yourself of faith.

    HAHA I love this. Life. all of it. Everyday seems better.


    As far as going with your family, to utterly reject them, is being cruel, going to something you don't think you believe in is formality at best. because those you love most dearest on this world are going, you should do it. Not because you want to but because they want you too. I'm guessing your mother wanted you to wear something embarrasing at some point in your life, and you did, just because she wanted to. This is no different. I'm with Be on this one. If your atheist and you don't believe in God, then all you've got is your family.... and your time just got alot shorter to be with them.
    Why is hate so ingrained in humans? For the supposed enlightened species we are very limited to such primitive behaviors. Peace is a fleeting in our society.
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  36. #35  
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    Yeah I think I pretty much agree with you Wolf and I'l probably just end up going. I think what has bothered me the most is the reasons they give for why I should go. If they would have said "It's a family tradition and it's important that we do it as a family, even if you don't believe" I don't think I'd really have ever had a problem with it so long as they understand I'm not going to praise God, but to be with the family. But because they give me "You're disrespecting our beliefs if you don't go", I don't really buy it because I don't believe that reason holds water.
    However since I was basically given that reason "on the spot" and they didn't really have much time to think about it, I think I can cut them some slack. It is more about family than respecting their beliefs I think even though that isn't the reason I was given. If they had a little time to reflect on it I have a feeling that's what they'd tell me.
    I wish you'd stick to your guns, Neutrino - not because anyone is going to conclusively make an argument one way or the other but because, no matter what your family means to you, you're your own person: to be emotionally blackmailed into a hypocritical act (a public hypocrisy since I presume the church is attended by more than just your family) is something I would resist.

    I suspect, however, that each respondent here has his or her point of view that colours the argument. I, for instance, realised I was an atheist when I was about 12. Shortly thereafter I told my family, and by the time I'd turned 14 I was no longer even pretending to engage in their religious practices. FWIW, some decades later we all still love each other, and I'm still the only atheist in the family. It's not an impossible position unless someone else makes it a deal-breaker...

    Would your family disown you for not going to church with them? Only you and they know, and only you and they know what you'd do if they insisted on it.

    Regarding arguments that suggest that family is more important than principle, all I'd say is that I'd never be able to trust a person who totally felt that way - there would be no reliance upon his or her integrity in any public matters, since all principles could be abandoned 'for family'.

    Don't know if you're even still reading this thread, but thought I'd shove my tuppence in there.

    cheer

    shanks
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