Help! My family wants to save me.

I call my Mom every week or two and today she was particularly “preachy” (in a nice way). I am an atheist and my family are Christians. That’s OK with me except I am constantly told that I won’t be happy until I “know” Christ. That’s OK too.

But I fear that my family thinks that I will go to hell. I don’t want them to worry about that so much. My Mom didn’t have the opportunity to have much of an education (no fault of her’s). My Mom has told me that I shouldn’t let my intellect (not much left) to interfere with my coming to Christ.

I told my Mom that I know (here, virtually) several Christians much, much more smarter than I that expose a forgiving, loving God rather than one that would send me straight to hell.

Sorry, this is a stupid OP, but if anyone has any ideas on how to respond, I would appreciate it.

Well, this reply is really more in the way of moral support, than a solution. I’ve had non-traditional beliefs, myself, for most of my life, and still do. Luckily, my mom was not the preachy type. But, I can really sympathize. It has to be a very difficult situation.

All I can really suggest is to be nice. She’s your mother, and she loves you, and I’m sure she’s genuinely concerned about your afterlife. So, I’d think the only appropriate response would be to thank her for her concern and let it go at that. Rational arguments hold no sway where faith is concerned. So, there’s no point in arguing with her about it. Just try to hear her preaching as a way of saying she loves you, and let the rest flow past.

Thanks Davebear. I do make a point of telling my Mom that I love her. When she told me today that she was a sinner, I said that she was nearly as pure as Mother Theresa.

My only complaint is that it gets old after awhile being told how ignorant (religiously) I am.

As a last resort, ask your mother to attend a counseling session with you and her priest, reverend, pastor or whatever. Hear out in full Mom’s concerns for your eternal soul and then mention the stress you’re going through dealing with her witnessing. Let her know that you are being alienated from her church. Try and make her see that she is driving you away from any possibility of joining her because of the “nagging.” If necessary, spend one day going to church with her. This will help indicate that you are not totally opposed to her own spiritual path and will give her a chance to feel as though you are part of her church.

If all of this is completely against what you stand for, then pursue many of these same arguments with a third party (i.e., unbiased relative or friend) present to moderate. Make it abundantly clear to your Mom that she is having the exact opposite effect she is seeking. You may need to make sure she understands that her Jesus would want you to be loved by her above all else, regardless of any participation in church.

Zenster, it’s not really that bad. But you gave some good advice. I am 700 miles away from my family, but when I visit again I might visit Mom’s church if she will have a meeting with the pastor.

Every so often my fundamentalist mom realizes that her godless grown children are going to hell and that it’s her duty to try to save them. She then starts making calls. A call to my brother went like this:

Mom: I called because I’m really worried about you going to hell.
Brother: Mom, I don’t want to talk about this again.
Mom: But I can’t stand the thought of you burning in eternal hell, and all you have to do…
Brother: Mom, If you keep talking about this, I’m going to hang up.
Mom: But you’ll be so sorry when you’re in eternal torment, and you’ll wish that…
Brother: Mom, I said I was going to hang up if you kept talking about this.
Mom: If you would just accept Jesus as you Savior and…
Brother: Click.

Then Mom calls me and says, “You’re brother just hung up on me. Why would he do that? …and I need to talk to you about you soul.”

Would this help?

“Mom, nothing you are ever going to do will make me believe something that I find to be unbelievable.”

I don’t know, just a thought. I myself am a Christian but have always abhorred and therefore do not practice “witnessing” so I am at a loss as to what can shut them up.

For those of us outside the evangelical loop (I was raised Catholic), could someone explain what the hell “witnessing” is/should be?

And how, for the love of all that is holy, did “fellowship” become a verb? I saw a poster inviting college students to come fellowship at the Baptist Student Union. Thought about going in my GLBT pride shirt, but I figured that would be rude.

Don’t know how it happened, but according to, it’s been that way since about the 14th century.

Thanks all.

I did not mean to imply that my Mom or my family makes an issue out of me going to hell. They hardly ever mention that. They mainly want me to be “saved” for my current life (which honestly could use a lot of help). But they also think that I won’t be with them in the afterlife (which I don’t believe in).

In all things, I am willing to admit that I may be wrong, but they are sure because of their faith.

My family’s Catholic, and FWIW, I still call myself Catholic, even though I’m lapsed and non-practicing. And my beliefs tend more towards Unitarian Universalist.

At any rate, both my parents wish I would go to church, but they only bug me about it when I mention it. Like they’ll get back from Mass, and I’ll say, “Hey, how was Mass?” “Well, if you’d GO, you wouldn’t have to ask!”


But other than that, they really don’t bug me about it. I still believe in God and all that, and I know my parents are big time Cafeteria Catholics. They don’t believe in Hell, for one thing.

It’s more, they think I should go to be with other people and to listen to what the priest is saying, just for the sake of going. But neither one of them will tell me I’m not “saved”, because we’ve never believed that anyone is “saved” or “not saved” in the first place.

My mother is a fundamentalist Lutheran. My father is Catholic; he was very lukewarm about religion for most of the itme I was growing up, but has become a lot more involved in his church during the last ten years or so, after I left for college. I was mostly raised in my mother’s church, but I was exposed to my father’s as well while growing up.

After leaving for college, I joined a non-fundamentalist Lutheran church. My father was fairly happy about this, and my mother was somewhat disturbed. I’d been quetly referring to myself as a heretic for a long time before this - since going through confirmation class and realizing that I really didn’t believe most of this - but until I found a far more liberal church, I hadn’t really articulated any of this to my parents.

Then I married a Jew. My mother almost blew a fuse at that. She has mentioned frequently since than that she was “praying to the Holy Spirit” for me and the Spouse. I have thanked her for her concern and made it clear that our spirituality really isn’t any of her business.

Then I joined a Unitarian Universalist church. At this point Mom just sort of sighed and buried her head in her hands. Dad asked a few questions about the scholarship of the church, and while he wasn’t happy, I don’t think he was really too upset either. I very pointedly did not tell them I was attending mainly for the CUUPs (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) group.

I haven’t told them about my coven yet. I don’t think it would do any good to do so, either. They’re upset enough about my brother being an atheist; no point in letting them know their eldest daughter has gone so far as to worship other gods . . .

Hell, just go get baptised and let her watch. Its just water and it won’t hurt long. Swallow your pride and do it for her on the condition that you are NOT going to start attending services.

It’ll make you both feel better and doesn’t cost a dime. You sound like an intelligent reasonable person who just wants to make peace. It’s your mom, make her day, really it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Especially if you know it’s all hocus-pocus anyway, right?

Stand up for yourself. Be kind, but stand up for yourself. Sounds like you’re doing okay at that, but the only way I can imagine your family laying off at all is if they understand they’re not going to change your mind. They may or may not respect your views (which is sad), but maybe the most you can expect is that they act respectful and stop trying to convert you.

Personal Story:
My family aren’t the religious sort, but apparently they felt it meant they’d done something wrong when I told them I didn’t believe in god at age 13. I forget exactly when I told them, but I’d only become recently and decided I didn’t want to go to temple for obvious reasons.
They’re decent, but I’m still disappointed in their reaction, which was to try for a while to force me to go. They failed. Another brother (two years younger) followed me along the same path shortly thereafter, which actually made my life a lot easier. While we’re equally adamant, I’m just a more reasonable person by temperament. My family attempted to force both of us to keep with the program for a while, and while it led to some unpleasant family events, I don’t particularly regret it. I could’ve been more accomodating, but so could they. They didn’t go to temple for years afterward, until our youngest brother decided to go to Hebrew school because his friends were doing it.
(That’s glib, but it’s what really happened. He can do what he likes, but I ranted and railed about the shallowness of that move for a while. Heh, and you should’ve seen me blow a gasket when we found the school taught him the age of the world was literally 5700 years. My impression was that was just that that was the age of the Hebrew faith, not that some actually think the world is that old. Even Christian fundamentalists think it’s 6000. :p)
I didn’t enter a temple from the day I was bar mitzvahed (I basically gave up on god that summer and in the months that followed) until a cousin’s bar mitzvah recently (and even that wasn’t without a fight).
My family has accepted it because they had to. It’s not an entirely settled issue, of course. As I said, attending the bar mitzvah was not my idea and it made me very uncomfortable. I have another cousin who should be bat mitzvahed in about two years’ time. If I can find a way to be cross country, I will.
Likely even messier, my youngest brother is scheduled for his bar mitzvah in '06. I’m hoping he becomes mature enough to respect my desire not to go, but I’m not putting money on it.
My grandfather apparently asked my girlfriend at said bar mitzvah in March if she thought I’d ever grow out of my atheism (when I wasn’t around, of course). I haven’t seen him since, and he’s in for a very serious chewing out when I do. I take that stuff very personally. My other grandfather was even more religious and would have probably killed both my brother and I if he was still alive.

I note this not to suggest a course of action, but just to illustrate how one course of action went. I was, it seems, younger than you, so I had to share a home with my family of course. There are still at least the two conflicts on the horizon, but I consider what I did a success overall.
There’s not an easy way to settle these issues forever unless you have an exceptionally reasonable family, which (nothing personal, rsa) you don’t in this regard. You need to determine what to do to get your own family to accept your ideas. I wish you the very best of luck in that.

I don’t understand the problem with going to someone’s bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah or baptism or whatever. Most of these type functions are like weddings or eagle scout awards, etc. You’re invited because someone wants you to share an event with them. You’re not committing to anything or saying you believe in something because you attend an event. Unless of course the event was something you were totally opposed to such as a human sacrifice.