I was raised in a catholic home. Here in Mexico it is very common that you “must” belong to the “official” religion, which is catholicism. At the age of 16 I started to question the authority of the church, and the established truth that it managed to exploit. Despite my being a part of a catholic family I saw myself questioning and questioning that what they taught me to believe as I grew older. It came gradually and not as a shock. One fine day, I decided that I didn’t needed to believe in a god to be happy, or to feel “complete” as they put it. (whatever that means)
My family, fortunately, accepted my atheism without questioning my motives. They taught me to embrace a religion, but they taught me also to think by myself. I know it sounds contradictory, but it is as I put it. Eventually I started to talk a lot about and against the official church and the religion in which I was educated. The only thing they asked of me is to respect the others believes.
I think, and I’ve told them this over and over, that only people deserves respect, but not their ideas. If all ideas deserve respect, then we should respect even the ideals that people like Hitler lived upon. This short phrase usually helps to end any argument. Sometimes it does not. But the important thing, is that now, and after several arguments over the years, my parents, my brothers and most of my friends start to question some of the very foundation of the religion and the church that they grew attached to. The pope is no longer the infallible messenger from god, and I have seen or heard my parents watching some nonsense about religion on TV and start to say “Aw, come on! that’s ridiculous!
It is then, when I think that there is still some hope. That some fine day, maybe, we will eventually have the maturity to disregard the very existence of celestial fathers, and start taking the life and the responsibility that comes along with the territory and that we have the right to. and the obligation to embrace.
You are an excellent example for atheists in religious situations. It is far better to light a candle and help someone read than to try and take away the book.
I think you will find that the long, slow road to freedom from superstition is both the kindest and the most effective. Best of luck, and thank you so much for writing!
In: Dealing with religious folks, Personal account