Fellow Atheists/Agnostic Atheists - Let's Chat: Do you feel it is risky being "out" these days?

Well, every year my birthday card from my sister is basically an excuse for her to proselytize. It's like 5% "happy birthday" and 95% "jesus loves you read the bible stop living in sin blah blah blah."

I just keep the pictures of my niece and nephew to stick on my fridge and throw the card away. I don't bring it up, but if she ever does I will be politely honest with her about how her "cards" make me feel.

Heh, my sister's Christmas card was just pictures of her family that said, "Merry CHRISTmas from the (name redacted) family!" Far less offensive.

Unless it's deliberately aimed at me I tend to just ignore overly religious cards. Some relatives just see them as nice and don't think twice about it. If it starts to get overbearing or malicious than you may want to politely remind them that you don't appreciate it, but I think it's important not to come off as seeming petty or aggressive when dealing with believers.

Send them a Reason's Greeting card.

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Farscry wrote:

Well, every year my birthday card from my sister is basically an excuse for her to proselytize. It's like 5% "happy birthday" and 95% "jesus loves you read the bible stop living in sin blah blah blah."

I just keep the pictures of my niece and nephew to stick on my fridge and throw the card away. I don't bring it up, but if she ever does I will be politely honest with her about how her "cards" make me feel.

This sounds like a good approach. Anything else just feels like feeding the trolls. The kind of people who send me cards like this might as well have said LRN2XMAS NOOB!!

I think expecting any devout Catholic or Christian to send anything but an overtly religious Christmas card is odd. I always view those cards as representing the people sending them, not me.

And if someone prays for me, I try to take it as a compliment rather than an affront.

Jayhawker wrote:

I think expecting any devout Catholic or Christian to send anything but an overtly religious Christmas card is odd. I always view those cards as representing the people sending them, not me.

I didn't express it well, but that's part of my conflict, yeah. I'm also conflicted by the fact that they should know their audience.

Jayhawker wrote:

And if someone prays for me, I try to take it as a compliment rather than an affront.

It depends on the spirit in which the sentiment is offered. I've encountered people offering to "pray for me," when it was clearly meant as, "You are wrong, I know you are, and I am going to tell you that by appealing to my imaginary skyfriend to change you."

NSMike wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

I think expecting any devout Catholic or Christian to send anything but an overtly religious Christmas card is odd. I always view those cards as representing the people sending them, not me.

I didn't express it well, but that's part of my conflict, yeah. I'm also conflicted by the fact that they should know their audience.

Not knowing your parents...but if it were my mother, Christmas cards are an assembly-line activity.

Step 1 - Make list of people.
Step 2 - Buy a box of cards with the right number of cards.
Step 3 - Fill out the cards.
Step 4 - Send cards.

Thought about whether the person receiving the card will appreciate the card or will feel offended by the words/tone of the card do not even enter the thought process.

I would assume that your parents are wishing you a merry Christmas, and leave it at that.

I did live with them up until a little more than a year ago, I've seen the process. It's not dissimilar, but this was clearly addressed to me with my name inside.

NSMike wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

I think expecting any devout Catholic or Christian to send anything but an overtly religious Christmas card is odd. I always view those cards as representing the people sending them, not me.

I didn't express it well, but that's part of my conflict, yeah.

Jayhawker wrote:

And if someone prays for me, I try to take it as a compliment rather than an affront.

It depends on the spirit in which the sentiment is offered. I've encountered people offering to "pray for me," when it was clearly meant as, "You are wrong, I know you are, and I am going to tell you that by appealing to my imaginary skyfriend to change you."

All I can say is that I live in a strongly Catholic city and have lots of religious friends. My daughter played soccer for St. Gabriel's. Most of my family are devout Christians. Not a single time have I taken the time to be offended.

Once, after my daughter had gone to Italian Mass with her friends a few times, the girls mother told me that Jordan had taken the explaining the ceremony to her daughters. She was picking it up better than them, and that she would be turning Catholic soon. I just told her that if the worst thing to happen to my daughter was that she became Catholic, then we had raised her well.

We don't go to church, but I've always been open to taking her if she asked. As she's gotten older, she's become fairly devout Atheist. She went to lots of churches with different friends and relatives, including my wife's aunt, who is a nun. Her and Jordan are like besties when she visits her in New Orleans.

I'm hoping we taught her to take everyone's faith in stride, including the teachers she has had in her public school that openly proselytize to the students.

Last week she asked me to take her to the Buddhist Temple I observed at for a World Religions class. She developed an interest in that, and I see no reason to discourage her. In fact, I suspect that if our method was to keep her from church and ban it, the odds would be better that she would be drawn to it. And if drawn, even better odds that it would cause alienation.

Jayhawker wrote:
NSMike wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

I think expecting any devout Catholic or Christian to send anything but an overtly religious Christmas card is odd. I always view those cards as representing the people sending them, not me.

I didn't express it well, but that's part of my conflict, yeah.

Jayhawker wrote:

And if someone prays for me, I try to take it as a compliment rather than an affront.

It depends on the spirit in which the sentiment is offered. I've encountered people offering to "pray for me," when it was clearly meant as, "You are wrong, I know you are, and I am going to tell you that by appealing to my imaginary skyfriend to change you."

All I can say is that I live in a strongly Catholic city and have lots of religious friends. My daughter played soccer for St. Gabriel's. Most of my family are devout Christians. Not a single time have I taken the time to be offended.

Once, after my daughter had gone to Italian Mass with her friends a few times, the girls mother told me that Jordan had taken the explaining the ceremony to her daughters. She was picking it up better than them, and that she would be turning Catholic soon. I just told her that if the worst thing to happen to my daughter was that she became Catholic, then we had raised her well.

We don't go to church, but I've always been open to taking her if she asked. As she's gotten older, she's become fairly devout Atheist. She went to lots of churches with different friends and relatives, including my wife's aunt, who is a nun. Her and Jordan are like besties when she visits her in New Orleans.

I'm hoping we taught her to take everyone's faith in stride, including the teachers she has had in her public school that openly proselytize to the students.

Last week she asked me to take her to the Buddhist Temple I observed at for a World Religions class. She developed an interest in that, and I see no reason to discourage her. In fact, I suspect that if our method was to keep her from church and ban it, the odds would be better that she would be drawn to it. And if drawn, even better odds that it would cause alienation.

I'm not sure why this relates to my comments. I think one of the most powerful ways to encourage thought is to allow access to all points of view, exactly the way you did it. If I had the desire to procreate, there would be no condemnation or forbidding of anything of the sort. My parents are free to believe what they want to. They are also free to desire my return to the church, but in private. If the aim of their relationship with me turns to an effort to convert me back to the faith, it's going to be at the best tedious, at the worst, tense.

I am simply weighing the advantages of introducing some potentially high tension now to reduce the tension later as they get used to the idea, versus allowing the tension to just be there. Regardless of whether or not they feel the tension, I certainly do, and it has made visiting them an unpleasant experience. It's a hard lesson I learned this Thanksgiving. Even though nothing happened that could even remotely be considered unusual or out of the norm between us, I feel the underlying tension because I know that they both did not approve of me being in a relationship earlier this year, and are in constant disapproval of my atheism. There's no doubt I'm too hung up on their approval. I'm not sure that I explicitly need their approval, I don't really sit here worrying about the fact that they disapprove day by day. I just feel like I'm subjecting myself to the company of people who consider me undesirable and I'd rather not be there. I'm going, though, to try to keep things from becoming bitter. I skipped Easter last year because I had nightmares and a near panic attack at the idea of going home after some of the things said post-Thanksgiving last year. And even though last year's Christmas was uneventful, I was still kind-of shell shocked from the whole blowup a month before. I still am, to some degree.

Acknowledge receipt of the card if they ask ("I got your card in the mail. What are your plans for Xmas eve?"), then toss it. I don't think this is really the right avenue to assert yourself in, since this isn't really focused at you. These cards are being sent to many other people, likely of at least different Christian denominations from your parents, correct? This is a ham-fisted attempt to send out holiday(holy day) greetings to people, not a targeted message to you. I'd save the confrontation for times when they are directing something at you specifically. If you really do feel the need to respond, follow Nicholaas' suggestion or get a bunch of Solstice cards and send them to your friends and folks.

Kraint wrote:

I'd save the confrontation for times when they are directing something at you specifically.

Yeah, good advice.

I solved this problem by starting to send out New Year's cards instead of any general or specific December holiday card. Lets you fully reciprocate with people without getting into any religious stuff at all.

clover wrote:

I solved this problem by starting to send out New Year's cards instead of any general or specific December holiday card. Lets you fully reciprocate with people without getting into any religious stuff at all.

My wife is doing the same thing this year. We're still wearing santa hats in the picture because we're goofy like that, but we wear them more as fun seasonal attire as the most religious aspect of our celebration is the end when we both think thank god everyone finally left, now it's time to enjoy our prezzies.

Plus, you can get cards on clearance and send them after everyone else without being late

I usually go with the Southern usage of "bless their heart", which is code for "I like you, but don't agree with what you're saying to me".

Thanks for the thoughts, let's move on. Especially when it comes to holiday cards.

My wife and I (she's pagan) spent 30 minutes trying to find the most non-denominational pack of holiday cards that we could this season. Either the front looked awesome, but had a bible quote inside, or there was the Capital G word right on the front.

I looked around a bit, it looks like the Met sells secular holiday cards:

http://store.metmuseum.org/stationer...

NSMike wrote:

I looked around a bit, it looks like the Met sells secular holiday cards:

http://store.metmuseum.org/stationer...

Will have to keep this in mind for next year. Thanks Mike

NSMike wrote:

I've encountered people offering to "pray for me," when it was clearly meant as, "You are wrong, I know you are, and I am going to tell you that by appealing to my imaginary skyfriend to change you."

As long as they show no awareness of the methods of operant conditioning, just smile and thank them for the kind thoughts.

I would say that you should consider how likely your parents are to send that same card to everyone else on their list before you snark at them. If it's *at all* likely that they *could* have done that, then it's likely they didn't single you out. Instead, they are treating you like all their other friends, which is a compliment. Keep that in mind.

McIrishJihad wrote:

I usually go with the Southern usage of "bless their heart", which is code for "I like you, but don't agree with what you're saying to me".

Thanks for the thoughts, let's move on. Especially when it comes to holiday cards.

My wife and I (she's pagan) spent 30 minutes trying to find the most non-denominational pack of holiday cards that we could this season. Either the front looked awesome, but had a bible quote inside, or there was the Capital G word right on the front.

Saw a pack at the pharmacist's with a golden retriever that had three balls in its mouth and a Santa hat, and no religious text. A bit pricey, or my Secret Stan victim would've gotten one with the Sasha Grey "Challenge Accepted" pic inside.

One year I got a set from Papyrus or somewhere that had a cartoon Santa with a yarmulke next to a rabbi with a santa hat, and "Happy Xmas! Merry Hanukkah!" on the front. Otherwise I've been getting generic winter ones, because even the so-called seasonal greetings ones are too xmas-y for my taste.

This year, dunno yet. I think next year I'm just going to make my own.

This year, dunno yet. I think next year I'm just going to make my own.

That was what we did, and we just made them more personal expressions of appreciation for people being in our lives with jokes and such (lots of adjectives to describe how we hope your new year goes before saying, you know what, you get the idea! and a reminder to our friends and family not to do anything we wouldn't do, which is a joke for us because we're some of the more adventurous members of our families... well she's the adventurous one and I follow her around. :D).

As noted, still got Santa hats on, but just because we thought they'd look nice for the photos, especially as they were at the Observatory in Cincy, which is all kinds of Christmas right now.

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trichy wrote:

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I'm pretty sure I could send this one out to all of my relatives and no one would recognize him.

NSMike wrote:
trichy wrote:

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I'm pretty sure I could send this one out to all of my relatives and no one would recognize him.

He makes a damn good, if a little introspective, Santa.

I should track down a box of those. Everyone on my dad's side of the family would find it hysterical.

We haven't sent out holiday cards in over 10 years. But after the ideas in this thread, I'm thinking a nice annual new years card might be in order.

I didn't realize that Darwin is the Athiest Jesus. I'm pretty sure it is OK to believe in evolution and God in some sects of Christianity.

PoderOmega wrote:

I didn't realize that Darwin is the Athiest Jesus. I'm pretty sure it is OK to believe in evolution and God in some sects of Christianity.

Yeah, Catholicism openly doesn't have a problem with it.