User Name:

Password:

FAQ Donate Join

Atheist Community of Austin
Bitterness towards Christians

I was rasied in Alabama (buckle of the bible belt) and at a young age I believed in evolution due to a book I read in 1st grade. But I have a very tough time with this belief of mine, which caused me to be beaten on by not only kids at school but two cousins and a brother. I also can't even speak to most of my family because they want to pray with me on the phone and believe my convictions are a "lie from hell". My question is, how do I deal with this bitterness toward a community that has ridiculed and even beaten on me for at least two decades (I moved to Austin and all of a sudden noone wanted to put their hands on me for being a Darwinist). I have began to hate Christians for the wars they drag us into, and for telling lies to our children. What do I do with this hate? Do I cut my family off because I won't speak in tongues? Do I take the blue pill or the red pill? Why didn't I just watch football, believe in the local religion I was raised in, love Bush, support Israel, etc...? Life would be so simple and there would be a heaven waiting on me when I die. Instead, I took the wrong pill ;)

I don't know if I'm the right person to answer this, but someone should.

I can't honestly tell you what to do about your family. That's really something only you can decide depending on your feelings towards them. If they're mostly negative feelings, and you don't need them for anything, perhaps you should cut ties.

As for what to do with your hate: channel it into activism. Look into what sort of atheist organizations are in your area and see what they're doing to combat religious influence. Or, maybe you have good topics for a YouTube channel, or a blog, or a book, or something else entirely. If your anger makes you compelled to do something, then do something, just try to make it something positive and constructive.

Lee,

Despite of what people say about Christianity in this forum, one thing I learned from the NT is useful, without doubt: It is very harmful for our psychological well-being to dwell on hate, anger, revenge, bitterness, etc. We must consciously drive out such emotions out of our mind. The way to do it is to forgive those who mistreats us and wish them well. It's tough, I know. But I don't know a better way.

"I have began to hate Christians for the wars they drag us into, and for telling lies to our children."

We have no control over the actions of other people. The focus should be on controlling our own actions. How can anyone "drag me" into something without my will to participate?

"What do I do with this hate?"

Abandon it. Make a conscious effort to leave it behind and move along. I wouldn't even "channel it into something positive". Just get rid of this emotion as of toxic waste.

Easier said than done, I know. I don't have the same experience with Christians as you, folks, in the South. I might feel the same way if I had the same experience. As you may see by the number of responses, atheism seems to have little to offer for your problem. I think, the people who abused you have missed the point of their Book.

Well, hello again, AG.

"one thing I learned from the NT is useful, without doubt: It is very harmful for our psychological well-being to dwell on hate, anger, revenge, bitterness, etc. We must consciously drive out such emotions out of our mind."

Do you have an actual source for this claim, or is it just your opinion that "driving out" one's own emotions is mentally healthy... or, for that matter, possible?

"How can anyone 'drag me' into something without my will to participate?"

Not supporting a war in the literal sense (i.e. by not paying taxes) entails going to jail. That seems kind of coercive to me.

"As you may see by the number of responses, atheism seems to have little to offer for your problem."

As you can see by the number of responses: nothing. Atheism doesn't offer anything except freedom from the self-imposed shackles of religious thought. Atheists on the other hand... can only provide from their own experience, and if no one has been in his situation and come out the other side, AND read his post on the ACA message boards, they can't offer any advice that isn't based on speculation.

Hi Lee,

I have had a similar experience as yours, although not exactly the same. I grew up in Texas in a conservative/fundamentalist Christian home. Although I didn't abandon my Christianity until my college years when I could basically start supporting myself, I used to hear the same types of things from my parents (praying on the phone, etc.). I think it's a very normal feeling to get intense feelings of anger and bitterness for the type of upbringing you received. I have felt it too and still feel it sometimes (I'm 37 years old now and have been on my own for half of my life).

What I have found is that it's extremely important to set limits/expectations around behavior that I will and will not tolerate. For example, I had a family member who, during family gatherings, would be hospitable to everyone except for me, and that this difference in treatment was due to my lack of belief in their religion. I had to develop a thick skin and confront this individual, and have since learned of the importance of addressing improper behavior promptly. In every instance, I believe in "firm, fair, and friendly" behavior: I'm firm in order to show that I'm not joking around and that I'm dead serious about my expectations for people to adhere to behavioral standards that I can tolerate; I'm fair in that I make the same expectation upon everyone (including myself) and that I'm not singling out a single individual or forming a double-standard; and I'm friendly because ultimately I don't want people tuning out the message because of the emotional "meta-message" that tends to drown out the ability for effective communication.

Ultimately, people make their own choices on whether they want to be respectful, and it's the choices we make that people judge us about. In the case of this family member, I had to tell her that not adhering to the basic behavioral expectations (respect) is her choice, but that there are consequences for such choices. At the time, my wife was expecting our first child, and I wanted this to be a happy time for my family, but that if this person couldn't be respectful that we wouldn't want her to attend. In the end, she made a better choice to start being respectful so that she could participate in the family functions, and that has led to an improved relationship between her and me/my wife over the intervening years.

I wish I could say that there is a magic formula or pill to swallow, as you say, but life is simply not that way. With a lot of hard work to build up your own confidence and handle these confrontations smoothly and successfully, you'll have some successes and build up some important life skills along the way as well. These skills are useful in other situations (such as the workplace) as well, and (lo and behold), I am a manager of people now at my company.

Best of luck to you!

Hey Lee I was going to post something lengthy but exBeliever sort of stole my thunder :P jk.

But I have been in a similar experience as well and handled it mostly the same way which has recently started making a difference. When I was much younger I told my family of my atheism (my whole family is pretty hard core catholic). As you can probably guess it did not go well. My whole family (extended as well) either stopped talking to me or when they did talk to me it was to blame me for the passing of a loved one, or someones hardship because I was making god angry at my family.

Honestly what it came down to was telling them if it didn't stop I couldn't have them in my life anymore. When it didn't stop I cut off all contact from my family and recently my parents have been reaching out and trying to rebuild our relationship once they realized what they had done.

Granted this is an extreme and I hope nothing like this happens to you but I do think that you need to make it known that you haven't done anything to deserve any aggression and will take steps to protect you and yours from it if it doesn't stop. If they truly love you I hope that they will value you being in their lives more than trying to force you to agree. Good luck man.

Follow us on:

twitter facebook meetup

ustream.tv

Join us for the Bat Cruise Lecture, 1:15pm September 27th at Trinity United Methodist Church, at 40th and Speedway. Lecturers will be Richard Carrier and Chris Johnson.

The ACA Bat Cruise is set for Saturday, September 27th, 6-8pm. Purchase tickets in advance here.

The audio and video from Dr. Shahnawaz August lecture is now available.