One thing about religion that I always found damning is the way religion has warped the minds of parents when their children leave the faith. More than anything else, this speaks volumes about the cruelty of religion. That is why I think it is important to tell these stories so that others can bear witness to them.
For me, growing up in a liberal Jewish household, I didn’t agonize over coming out to my parents. This was in large part because I didn’t know it was such a big deal and to my family’s credit, it really wasn’t. My younger brother followed me out of the faith and my older sister remains faithful even though she married an atheist. My parents are only slightly religious and sometimes I am not even sure they still believe at all. On occasion, my parents tell me to tone down my atheism when we have religious visitors, but I always fall back on my position that I won’t start a conversation about religion, but if a religious person starts it, I will certainly engage and finish it.
My story however is the exception. Many atheists have faced strong opposition from their families when they came out of the atheist closet. I have heard stories of parents actually kicking their kids out of the house and onto the street with nothing. Sometimes, parents force their kids to go to church or speak to the preacher for a “special” talk. The range of parental re-actions and attitudes when dealing with their son or daughter’s de-conversion fun the spectrum and I would like to hear those stories and I think others should hear those stories too.
So this is what I am going to do. I want all you Dangerous Talkers to e-mail me your stories at DangerousTalk@gmail.com with “Coming out to family” in the subject line. Sign your story with your first name, city and state. Then, I will pick a few of them to showcase in an Examiner story. I’m going to set the deadline for this at Sunday, October 20th, at Midnight (EST). I may take some stories after that depending on when I have time to write up the article.