My mother is a practicing Pentecostal Christian and has recently begun heavily witnessing to my five-year-old son. I was raised in this cult-like religion, but have been an atheist for nearly 10 years now. Although my mother and I have never had an in-depth conversation regarding my deconversion, she knows where I stand on the issue of religion.
The past few times my son has spent time with her (she lives several houses away so he doesn’t see her regularly) she has taught him religious songs and has talked to him about inviting Jesus into his heart, praying, Heaven, etc. She has placed prayer cloths (strips of cloth church members pray over) in his room and once when she kept my son and infant daughter overnight at her house she took them to choir practice and had the choir members pray over them.
To make matters worse she has asked my son to keep these things a secret from me, and his father who is also an atheist. Being five, my son of course cannot keep a secret, and told us what happened after each event. I’m not sure how to approach my mother regarding her behavior.
My mother and I have always been extremely close and I love her very much, but I am deeply saddened and hurt by her actions. I know that I cannot have a rational conversation with her because I have tried this in the past. When my son was one, she said she wanted to take him to Sunday School and I explained in as nice a way as possible that this was not going to happen. She became enraged and cried uncontrollably. The subject was never broached again by either one of us. My husband is angry with my mother and wants me to talk to her ASAP. I know that I have to speak with her about this, but I don’t want to permanently damage our relationship. Do you have any advice on how I can talk to my mother?
A Concerned Mother
Usually, when I link to an advice column, it’s because the advice-giver said something so completely wrong, it’s deserves mocking. When the advice column is written by a religious figure, the odds of that happening are even greater. (Think Rev. Billy Graham‘s column.)
But Rev. Jason Peterson, writing for the Algona Upper Des Moines newspaper, had such a fantastic response to the question “How should Christians approach the question of school prayer?” that it’s worth our attention. Instead of arguing about those damned liberal hippie Communist atheists who took prayer out of our schools, Peterson gives us proper background on the issue and offers a very reasonable approach for Christians to follow:
My girlfriend just broke up with me suddenly due to my lack of belief in god. Everything between us had been so perfect, felt so natural and right (her words), yet she went from loving me and telling me how much I meant to her on one day to telling me she can’t be with me anymore the next day. This happened a few days prior to my birthday while I was on vacation. I had disclosed about my former religious self and how I can no longer believe in god on our first date.
Her best friend’s father passed away and that made her realize that she could be in front of god’s judgment any day. That scared her because she feels that she’s not good enough. She wants to be closer to god. She blamed herself for the mistreatment from her previous relationship because she wasn’t living according to god. She told me that I’m better than most people she knows in church and that no one has ever made her feel so special and beautiful like the way I made her feel, yet she cannot be with me anymore because I’m not a “man of faith”…
Ah, sex ed. There are few high school subjects that can make teenagers so uncomfortable, weirdly excited, and sweaty all at once.
One student, Jeremy, was having a tricky time in his own sex ed class and so he did what any of us might have done in a similar position: he emailed Christian blogger Matt Walsh for some advice.
A few things you should know about Matt Walsh:
- He is a self-described “blogger, speaker, and professional sayer of truths.”
- He has more than 55,000 likes on Facebook. Also, both his profile and cover photo are of his face.
- If you search “Matt Walsh,” he has the number one Google result. Which is, frankly, quite impressive.
- I don’t know what else. He doesn’t have much in the way of an “About Me” page.
So, as I was saying, Jeremy had a bad experience in his sex ed class and turned to Walsh for some guidance:
I recently came out to my family and friends as gay and atheist. Throughout all of it, I have received an overwhelming amount of unexpected support. But, in every family, there is at least one bigot.
I have an uncle who, when I came out as gay, instead of rationally discussing it with me, decided he was going to start screaming Bible verses at me in front of the whole family. He ran off afterwards. I’d hoped that it was over and that he would just leave me alone, but he will not.
First, I started getting messages on Facebook telling me that I have “chosen” to lead a very wrong and sinful lifestyle. He said that he “loves” me, but I am going to burn in hell for “choosing” to be gay. He said I am a dark person and I am just angry at God.
I tried to explain to him that I did not choose to be gay and that I am not angry at God because I do not believe in him. He completely ignored this and just started spewing hate and bigotry again. I finally just blocked him from Facebook because I had enough of it.
Fast forward a few days. He found my blog that I write about atheists. He started to comment on the posts telling me I’m a horrible person, I am choosing to live the wrong lifestyle, that Darwin was an idiot atheist who didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, and saying that science has proved there is a God, etc. [Click headline to read more…]
***UPTDATE: Dustin’s blog is now open to receive your supportive comments!*** [Read more…]