My mother is visiting for a few days as she attends a local conference. We get along well and have been talking over various topics like jobs, memories, family get-togethers, and so forth. Tonight, the conversation turned to my relationship with my Man (If you’re reading this, baby, don’t be weirded out! This is what our family can’t avoid doing.). At the end of this pleasant topic, we discuss the meaning and reasons for getting married vs. long term partnerships. I list my reasons for liking the institution, and then the conversation follows like this:

Mom: “I don’t mean this in a challenging way, but in order to understand you better, may I ask… Is God a part of your reasoning when it comes to marriage?”
Me: “No.”
Mom: {pause} “Okay. The reason I ask is because I have views on the spiritual meaning and value of marriage, and it would only apply if you considered God in the equation.”
Me: {feeling anxious for some reason} “Yeah, I understand that viewpoint–not having been married, but still as a… well, I’ve been from that uh… I know what it means.”
Mom: “May I ask you where you are with the whole God thing? I mean, you don’t have to say anything…”
Me: “No, it’s okay…” {jittery pause, can’t think of the words} “I’m kind of apprehensive about talking over something so personal with people whom I care for so much and whose opinion really matters to me.”
Mom: “Oh I totally understand you there.”
Me: {Forming the words in my mouth to tell her the truth when—}
{–Keys jingle in the lock. Roomie enters the apartment, cracking the tension like peanut brittle}

Oh my damn. I was this close, people! I was ready to say these words: “I’ve been an atheist since summer 2008.” But no! I have to start that whole freaking conversation over again! It’s not like she doesn’t know. Look at all those hints I was dropping! She knows I say no to church, don’t talk about spiritual things, don’t pray with others, etc. She just hasn’t heard me say the words yet. I believe I’m ready, but I am totally unrehearsed. I fly by the seat of my pants. This situation was like having my pants split. Awkward, poor timing, and I’m scrambling to act normal. Will I finish the talk this weekend? Probably. I’m sick of secrets.

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20 thoughts on “Coming Out Atheist…Almost.”

@pschult · October 31, 2009 at 6:55 am

I hope you can come out soon. I came out to my parents by letter (pre-email days), and they responded by letter. That was more comfortable for me than in person would have been since confrontation in person is difficult for me (YMMV). In any case, I felt better and freer when I was no longer hiding my views. It did hurt them, apparently, and I think they still pray for me to return to Xianity, but overall they've adjusted to the reality of my views.

_7654_ · October 31, 2009 at 9:41 am

GG, you have done well. She probably thinks you are "not very religious", and that is good. It serves the gradual and gentle approach very well. Next time you will do it. 🙂

    _7654_ · October 31, 2009 at 9:55 am

    marriage is one of gods most favourite subjects, not just in Xtianity / Catholicism it is one of the most regulated and talked about subjects in religion. By answering "No" to her first question, i think you may have outed yourself more than you realize :-), her second question, with the pause confirms the arrival of the information to me. Well done.

      godlessgirl · October 31, 2009 at 9:35 pm

      I appreciate your encouragement! I also think that "no" was quite loaded…

kefaustin · October 31, 2009 at 8:03 am

I feel for you. That convo sounds exactly like my mom (who is a very strong catholic). Luckily, my dad gradually became an aetheist, so I did not have to have this conversation with her. She tolerates it, and my middle brother shares my Dad’s and my views – (FTW!)so that's 2 out of 3. She's still got her youngest in her corner though. All this to say: if she wasn't already exposed to it via my dad, I would be in your shoes right now. The dialogue above was enough to remind me of my own mom.

kefaustin · October 31, 2009 at 8:04 am

If they are anything alike, she does already know, probably feels as awkward as you do, and likely wanted to smooth any unsaid tension by opening a door for that discussion, even if only a crack. The door is still open. I say you *try* not to plan or script out what you're going to say, but throw out a "remember our conversation yesterday……." then just throw the words out there bluntly. I've done this with a difficult situation. (bf and I living in sin!!) and I found that the discussion will be the same, but at least the initial shock of the words will be behind you – like ripping off a band-aid. Hope this doesn't come off as too "advicey" and I hope it goes well….you'll feel so much better when it's done! sorry so long

    godlessgirl · October 31, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Thank you, that's probably what I will end up doing. I might even start it off with "I love you." just to remind her that it's not about her.

Eleanor · October 31, 2009 at 4:44 pm

This is such an uncomfortable time. I remember it well. Fair warning from my experience when I finally did "come out." To this day they don't believe I am really an atheist. I am a daughter of a preacher. The same is true for my husband. My father and his sister have bluntly stated so. It has been over fifteen years (while we were in college, we didn't know each other then, but lucky enough to find each other). But I did feel better getting it out there. Oh, the uncomfortable memories. It took a while to get to a point that they stopped trying to talk about it. Now it rarely comes up. It is pointless in my case, faith is like pushing string. But no doubt they continue to pray and talk about us amongst themselves. They seem concerned about their grandchildren now, but know they dare not breach that subject other than the occasional invite to VBS that is declined without hesitation. We are lucky that they value having a relationship with us. I know some are not that lucky.

    godlessgirl · October 31, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience with me. I have a feeling that it may come across to them like a "phase" or that I'm just a "backslidden Christian" who needs help or witnessing. Hopefully over time it will not come up much at all, and they will just let me be.

      Eleanor · November 1, 2009 at 5:15 am

      I didn't tell you – good luck! I have been thinking about you today. I found this site because the domain name was taken. Darn you. So I decided to check out who had it. Anyway feel free to email me if you need anything/encouragement.

        godlessgirl · November 1, 2009 at 5:38 pm

        Thank you so much, Eleanor. Sorry I nabbed the domain first (well, not *too* sorry hehe) but if you create a website or have one already, please let me know! I'd love to hear about it.

@hockeyisgood · October 31, 2009 at 6:07 pm

When I came out to my parents, I did it very non-chalantly. My parents knew I was hiding something, and they were expecting me to say I was gay. They are now kind of (i use that loosely) understanding my position on religion, but they think it's a phase, which is I guess a Jewish-atheist trend (I've heard a number of similar stories). It also probably helped that my Uncle did something similar when he was younger. The only other problem you may want to think about is, what do you want the rest of your family or other religious friends to know. My parents ended up telling a lot of people, while telling me they've kept it quiet with people I didn't want to tell. Although they claim to have kept it quiet, I have a feeling they told certain people I didn't want to know.

    godlessgirl · October 31, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Hmm… I may have to explicitly discuss this with my mother. I don't want to put her into a position that's hard for her. This is my own business, and I'm not sure if I want her telling other family members. hmm…

GeorgeRic · November 1, 2009 at 1:51 am

The mechanical success of our civilization has led many to basic materialism. Are western men divided into those humanists who think that there is 'only this material world' and those who believe in a spiritual world ? Humanists now proudly work for many praiseworthy goals, but also accept malthusiastic concepts such as overpopulation. So they declare some to be ' unter-menschen', killing babies before they become human and easing away the senile. In contrast, the laws given by spiritual decree forbid unprincipled behavior by believers. God made our world for successive generations and plans to shut it down when the number of saints is full. (Comment will be continued below) GeorgeRic

GeorgeRic · November 1, 2009 at 1:55 am

(Comment continued from above)
So they declare some to be ' unter-menschen', killing babies before they become human and easing away the senile. In contrast, the laws given by spiritual decree forbid unprincipled behavior by believers. God made our world for successive generations and plans to shut it down when the number of saints is full.
A new book, 'Techie Worlds' (available from looks at some teachings of the Galilean. They are ridiculous and cannot happen if there is 'only this world'. But viewed in the light of Flatland's contiguous dimensional worlds, they make simple mechanistic sense. This is the way of science: to look at phenomena to see if they are explained by a theory. If they are, that theory is accepted as true. So the Galilean logically based his statements on a spiritual world that truly exists and is superior to ours. (continued)

GeorgeRic · November 1, 2009 at 1:55 am

'Techie Worlds' discusses teachings about the Trinity, soul, resurrection, judgment, hell and Satan and others.
As Jews, Muslims, and pagans learn that the spiritual world of Christ is real, wars and terror will pass and the reign of Love will ennoble our world for the wellbeing of all.

godlessgirl · November 1, 2009 at 6:30 am

@GeorgeRic: Since you make the same comment(s) on a lot of unrelated blog posts, I'm not sure there's a point to keeping these here, but I will for now.

OlderMusicGeek · November 1, 2009 at 7:47 am

coming out isn't easy. i found the best way was just to meet the person for the sole purpose of doing that. tell them you have something to tell them. then you can't really back out!

Dude · November 1, 2009 at 4:02 am

Just tell her you think God is a fable and doesn’t factor into anything.

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