Should I go with the flow?

Sent in by Deborah K

My mother is 80 years old, a retired missionary to Africa! I have recently discovered that Christianity in it's fundamental, evangelical form is certainly not for me. My siblings are current foreign missionaries. I know it will break my mother's heart to hear of my change so I am keeping it to myself and just nodding in agreement to her crazy remarks.

I know the subject will surface soon and I will have to confess to my new thoughts, and I was wondering if anyone else has been through this to give me some encouragement or advice. I mean a very real, true ultra conservative, evangelical environment. I don't want to bring her "shame" that's why I fell it is important just to go with the flow until one day I'm found out.


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Jamie said...

Is she in good health? That might enter into it. It would also depend on your relationship with your mother.

My mother is 68, and I've told her. Frankly, I think she enjoys the lively debates. However, I see no need whatsoever to tell my 86 year old grandparents. At their age there just doesn't seem to be a point in telling them. It's not like their lives would be improved any by the telling, nor would mine.

Anonymous said...

My mother is 87, yesterday. I didn't tell her until I was forced to. I dreaded it so much that I often cried about it. It was ridiculous, to be that ripped apart about something like this at my age (and hers).

I would have kept it from her forever if I could have. She and I have never discussed it since, but her knowing has ruined our relationship, which is, I suppose, what I feared.

She really is only able to love somebody who "earns" that love by doing what she wants them to do. I never really knew that about her until this happened. She's very concerned and conscious of what "other people" might think, and the "other people" are always her xtian friends.

(And while she was not a missionary to Africa, she was a xtian school teacher for many years. A devout, devout evangelical/fundamentalist, ultra conservative like your mom.

I tried the "becoming more of a liberal xtian" thing with her for awhile, and that worked, but then she found out that I am an atheist and that did it.

That said, it was a liberating thing for me, painful as it was, when it was over. Sort of like a long-needed surgical procedure. I can be myself now and never have to worry about "what if somebody sees this" or "what if somebody tells her." (I lived 4600 miles away from her and worried about stuff like that, if you can imagine that.)

Kyan said...

mothers don't need nor want to know everything. i don't see that there's anything to be gained by telling her.

i told my mom when i was 11, she said 'don't tell your father' and i never have and haven't brought it up since. It doesn't come up. I don't see where there is anything to be gained by making a deal out of it with family. Luckily they don't force me to do anything or believe anything and they are pretty casual about their beliefs. I guess if they were pushing me to do religious stuff I would have to push back.

Anonymous said...

My parents are both evangelical missionaries in Africa. My sister and her family are in a different country in Africa doing the same thing. I have told them all that I no longer believe. It has caused all of us grief, but there have been no breakdowns in community and fellowship amongst us. My sister is 30 and my mother 64.

twincats said...

My mom died in 1981, so that's not a worry for me. The only reason I don't tell my dad is that I'm afraid he'd slip up and tell my fundie aunt (my mother's sister.)

I live on the west coast and my aunt lives in the midwest, so I see no point in having long-distance arguments with her.

Everyone on my husband's side of the family knows and are fine with it.

You have to do what's right for you, whether others agree or not.

Nvrgoingbk said...

I began dropping hints slowly and introducing my doubts and my findings a little at a time, so it was not terribly surprising to my friends and family when I deconverted. They all thought that I'd come back around eventually, but much to their dismay, I never will. There is still one friend I have yet to tell, but she is a long distance friend, and we rarely ever talk.

You have to weigh the positive and negative in telling your mother. This is definitely a moral issue for you. Should your integrity and your need to live your truth outweigh your mother's peace of mind in her last years? Sometimes, it is not always the nobler thing to do. However, for your own sanity, it very well be what you need to do for yourself. I, personally could not perpetuate a false front. It's just impsosible for me. The reason most of us left Christianity in the first place is because our integrity would not allow us to remain in a lie and the result of that was to come out to our family (biological and church) and friends. Christians think it so important to make a public confession of faith, and I think it equally important for an Ex-christian to do the same.

Allowing your mother and family to continue thinking you're a Christian is for her to believe that you still worship a god that commanded the slaughtering of millions including the elderly such as herself and infants. It is to continue to allow her to believe that you profess faith in a god that will send billions of people to Hell for the rest of eternity simply for worshipping the wrong god. It is to continue to allow her to believe that you have faith in the numerous contradictions, recycled fables, scientific impossibilities and downright lies that are to be found within the Bible and the faith itself.

Which will you choose?

sillywhispers said...

Put her well being above your own and avoid telling her. It will serve no purpose but to cause her anguish. Telling her you do not believe something at this point will not tell her anything useful about you that would improve your relationship with her.

Why tell her? So you can feel smug that you figured out something important while pointing out she has been wrong all her life? This is important information to give someone you plan to spend the rest of your life with, but she is nearing the end of hers.

Your mother will want to save you from everlasting hell. It will preoccupy her mind. A good fundie would use whatever means she could to manipulate you into going back to the fold, including shunning or disinheriting you.

Just let it go! She won't change at this late date.

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with what the others are saying. When I deconverted, I told my parents, but my father made the mistake of telling my grandmother, and when she came out to visit me, she told me she was praying for me every day and had bought me those books (you know like The Case for Christ)that I'll never read.

The point is, there's no need to cause an old woman such pain. I ended up telling her I'd come back to Jesus just to put her mind at rest. They take things like hell very seriously, and I'll be damned if i let her think her grandson is going to a place like that. But of course your situation might be different, and you have to do what you think is right.

sillywhispers said...

You wanted to hear from people who had been through this. I just posted my viewpoint, but failed to tell you my experience.

You said, "Christianity in it's fundamental, evangelical form is certainly not for me." Indicating you may still hold Christian beliefs. Which is fine, but isn't my story, so my advise may have been wrong for you.

I told my Mother 30 years ago, after long study and thought I no longer believed in Christianity or gods or demons or angels or anything supernatural. I explained to her all the books I read etc. She refused to believe me about this and went on and on about how I was saved when I was baptized etc. I wanted to raise my child without superstitions, but she took it upon herself to take my child to church with her and preach to her whenever she got the chance.

Now she is widowed, blind, old and in poor health. The agreement with family has always been that the child who cared for her would inherit. She is afraid of care facilities wanting to remain as independent as possible. I put my life on hold and care for her 24 hours a day. I love her, but it is difficult as I will not be inheriting. More infuriating though is her TV evangelist/soothsayer/politician influencing her politics and having to help her cast ballots for morons.

She is angry that I am an agnostic/atheist and wishes to manipulate me into becoming a Christian again or at least giving it lip service. Sorry, I can't go backwards like that and pretend with her. Jeezzz, it isn't like I told her last year or something. While it was liberating to be truthful with her, it ruined our relationship. She's been so nasty at times. It's amazing how much hate she can hold in the name of love of God. She's never really given her religion a critical examination nor has she ever wanted to do that. It would invalidate cherished delusions/hallucinations.

For example, she still tells about being quite young and emerging from an outhouse at night. Her grandmother was with her and she pointed up to the sky exclaiming about an angel of death carrying a baby up into heaven. She saw it too, all in black with wings carrying a bundle and a baby down the street did die that night. Great story! Isn't it? Then there are all the laying on of hands stories from her childhood. Anyway, she has no intention of ever looking critically at her beliefs. That's sinful! You must become as a child and simply have faith.

I guess you can decide for yourself if my experience has any relevance to your predicament. Good luck -- not that I believe in luck.

Anonymous said...

I fall in the category that believes it is best to not upset the apple cart at this point in her life.

I told my own mother, age 83, and she has never gotten over it. She is in ill health now and if I had it to do over, I would let her have her fantasies without reservation.

Of course, you have to do what you think is best in your own life. Good luck. Jim Earl

Anonymous said...

To all who commented, it has been very helpful.
I am going to just go along - even if I am putting up a front. The only problem is that I will soon be marrying (or gasp!) living with a man who is Catholic. Although my Mom and I live in the same city, she remarried recently and I don't see her much. So totally ignores my partner (and he is glad about that!)
If she finds out ok - and I'm ok with the disinheriting thing too - although it will hurt, but I'm tired of trying and pretending for 50 years. It just hasn't worked for me as much as I tried.

Thanks again for hearing everybody's story.

Deborah K

freethinker05 said...

Excellent choice Debbie k. Good luck with your boyfriend. Peace and Love, Roger

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