How much pressure do you feel to believe what your family believes?

By which I mean, “How much pressure do they put on you, and how do they exert that pressure?” not “How much ethical or moral obligation do you believe you have to conform to your family’s belief system for its own sake?”

Though you can answer that question as well, I suppose.

To get things rolling–on Labor Day I went to my sister’s house for a cook-out. About halfway through the afternoon, two of my nieces decided they wanted to head across the development to my younger niece’s godmother’s house, as her mother, another of my sister’s was visiting the godmother. Not wanting the girls to walk there alone, I accompanied them.

Arriving at the godmother’s house, I found my sister, the godmother (who is rather like a sister to me, for the record), and the godmother’s husband engaging in a spirited debate about the feds’ reaction to Katrina.

“It took so long because Bush hates black folk,” my sister said. “He’s nothing but a racist.”

Godmother and Godmother’s husband both agree. I felt compelled to dissent. “That’s not fair,” I said. “He’s appointed more blacks and women to office than any other president. I think he’s divorced from reality, and intellectually lazy, and helming a largely incompetent administration, and I’ll be happy so happy when his term is over I may dance an Irish jig, but I don’t think he’s a racist.”

This comment elicited howls of outrage from Sister and Godmother. (Godmother’s husband wisely chose to go have a beer.) Much of the following conversation (which went on back at the original sister’s house) became about me–about whether my refusal to ascribe the president’s response to malice meant that I was betraying my own race. My family’s always been vexed by my politics and religion, and the general opinion (expressed as affectionately as such an opinion can be) was that I was necessarily self-deceived and possibly self-loathing to think that President Bush isn’t a closet KKKer (and that he should be referred to respectfully because of his office).

What similar experiences have you lot had?

Born and raised in New England. My entire family are Patriots and Red Sox fans. I happen to be a Yankee and Bears fan. It came to be known that on Thanksgiving I would be the one who only came over to rile to crowd…With me saying things like Remember 1985? Or so what if the curse was broken, the red sox are a bunch of scum sucking, back woods hooligans who don’t deserve the dirt on my shoes…

Ok maybe I indulged in a bit of riling…but most of them deserved it. Plus my wife is a yankee fan, which by default makes me a Yankee fan… :slight_smile:

As for religion and such…no never been pushed.

No pressure at all.

When I was a kid, I was pushed like crazy to adhere to their religion. As I got older and capable of putting up more and more of a fuss, they finally relented enough to stop bugging me to go to church with them on Sundays, and then on holidays, and then finally it was, “Oh, just don’t tell Grandma.”

But I wasn’t going to hide who I was from Grandma either.

They leave me alone about it these days, but I’m old and cranky and don’t put up with brainwashing. Never have, actually.

I think I was spawned by aliens and dropped on my parents’ doorstep after they were hypnotized into thinking I was really theirs.

My entire life it was me against two brothers and both parents, not to mention a swarm of aunts and uncles and cousins - name the subject: religion, politics, race, war, morals…I was the one versus all. I learned a long time ago you can’t really change anybody’s mind, but sometimes you can at least crack open the door and let them see there are other options and ways to think about a subject. My family also kept me on my toes and I would come prepared to the table, armed with facts - something that never seemed to get in the way of their arguments.

But basically, save your breath. You can show them proof, written in stone, videotaped for posterity and verified by twenty sources and they will still say you’re wrong. Want proof? Go the BBQ Pit now and read the rants of the Bush apologists over the past few weeks.

My family is…eclectic. We come in all flavors, religions, and political beliefs, and we’re generally quite stubborn too. Luckily, we are also very relaxed and humorous people.

No pressure whatsoever. I don’t recall ever hearing sports, politics or religion discussed by anyone in my family, when I lived with them. I don’t even know what any of their opinions or leanings were.

No real pressure, but I have one story:

I’ve been agnostic for the past 7 years. My Italian Catholic mother knows this full well, and we’ve even discussed religion a time or two. But about 3 years ago she came down to visit one weekend, and I went with her to the local Catholic church for Mass (so she wouldn’t have to go alone): when the processional hymn started she noticed that I didn’t have a hymnal in front of me – and therefore wasn’t singing – so she held hers toward me a little. I waved it off, and got a sarcastic sigh and eyeroll in return. I damn near walked out to go wait for her in the car, but shrugged it off instead. I guess she thought that being agnostic meant I would still sing hymns in church. :rolleyes:

She hasn’t said or done anything since then, though, and I never discuss it with my father (Irish Catholic) or brother. I’m also the only non-Republican in my immediate family, but we discuss politics even less frequently than religion.

Most of the political/religious discussions in my family are begun by me, and inevitably have some thing to do science (like federal funding thereof, or it’s relationship to religion). They are not very satisfying, as most of my family agrees with me. The exception is my little (now 17 -year-old) brother who either gets put in his place for being flat out wrong, or is arguing just to argue.

None at all, really, though I did go to Sunday school for a few years and have done the whole Communion-Confession-Confirmation thing. That said, I don’t feel comfortable talking about my beliefs around my parents–mainly because I’m not even sure what they believe!

None, really.

I used to, though - my parents where always quite liberal about raising their children, but they also had pretty strong (atheist, socialist, anti-authoritarian) views about life, especially when I was young and I did feel some pressure to conform to their ideals then. I guess those ideas still influences me, even though I don’t feel any pressure to agree with them. I’ve had some pretty fierce discussions with my family about some of my beliefs, but I know they still support and love me, even if they don’t agreee with everything I believe :slight_smile:

By the way, I agree with your assessment of GWB.

None at all. We agree on nothing and we like it that way! :smiley:

Oh man, I don’t know if I can accurately express how much pressure my mother/stepfather/brother-in-law and sister (sometimes) put on me to be a Christian Republican who votes party so that “babies won’t die anymore” or whatever.

I feel for them, I know that my mom honestly believes that I will burn in a terrible place for eternity if she doesn’t do something RIGHT NOW! We’ve have discussions-turned-tearful battles galore and I mostly try to keep my mouth shut when she’s around. My stepdad is more level-headed, but still thinks I’m a moron for buying into the whole evolution idea :rolleyes:

My brother-in-law only starts in on me after my mom and stepdad have cornered me into some weird religious or political discussion that completely defies any sort of logic or reason. He’ll throw in a supporting scripture or two, but on his own he’s pretty laid back.

My sister hates the fighting, but I have a sneaking suspicion that her idea of “fixing it” is me giving up and admitting that abortion = baby murder, gays = abomination to God, and Democrats = Evil, Godless Heathens™. Sadly, I don’t think that my sister even has an opinion where politics are concerned. She just doesn’t want to argue (understandably).

To make matters worse, my mom, stepdad, bro-in-law and sister all attend the same church, drive the same vehicles (Each couple has a white work van and a smallish tan Mountaineer), the men like to build things and talk about God while the women like to make food and play board games.

I drive a blue Focus, my fiance’ whines about gluing his headphones back together (so forget building a trailer or painting a house), and I frequent gay bars/clubs. We’re both frothing liberals (he’s a little worse) who mourn the day(s) that Bush cheated his way into office.


o/ One of these things is not like the other.. o/

Bingo. you so smart, Dmark.

I’ve learned to ignore the glaring nuts in our family tree. Or maybe I’m the nut, but hell, I’m adopted, so they can’t pass any of it on to me. Yay!

Though they are Catholic,Irish, republican and conservative Superfecta! they still are loads of fun as long as we don’t wander into forbidden territory. (And zee German relations are German, Lutheran (half Catholic), conservative, republican and German. Two Superfecta’s on each side of the Ujest family tree. Go Me!

I’m an Agnostic Apathetic Buddist New Ager. What does it mean? No guilt, I sleep in on Sundays and in your previous life you were a squirrel.

I beleive very strongly in the tactic of: You can’t hit a moving target. Never really stay long at a relatives house or party. MOve from one cluster of relatives to another clot of them. One your butt grows roots in the couch, that is when the " So, how’s the Priest up at your church doing?"

“Well, he’s doing 7-10 at a Maximum prison for diddling little boys…but other than that, I dunno. Been too busy worshipping the Devil and sending money to Jesse Jackson.”

Whatever you do, don’t mention the war. I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it. :smiley:

Another with none.

Ditto, except I was adopted (in the same family, from one sister to another). But still, I act more like the third sister than anyone else. My mother to this day prays for my soul (we’re Hindu) and thinks I am going to hell, they are severely racist, and we disagree on almost everything.

None really, although sometimes my dad will put me on a guilt trip for not going to Mass anymore.

I think my family’s motto is “Our Family – If It Doesn’t Kill You, It Will Possibly Make You Stronger.” It’s not pressure exactly, it’s more like running the gauntlet. There’s a herd mentality so if someone presents a novel idea, everyone else must mock that person mercilessly for perhaps a decade or so, at every possible opportunity. You must walk a fine line in your response – if you lose your temper over it, you are a Poor Sport and not to be taken seriously. If you don’t respond at all, you obviously don’t have any convictions and are Weak Minded and not to be taken seriously. However, if you stick to your guns throughout this ordeal, at the end of it the family elders admire you for your persistence, and will even defend your idea or viewpoint if some pesky outsider tries to challenge it. I mean really, by the end you are practically running around singing “We are the Champions” and high-fiving Great-aunt Rose (to her confusion), even though perhaps you are no longer exactly clear what your original belief was because so many years have passed.

I realize this may sound horrible if you’re not used to it, but it’s not too bad. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and you know how it’s going to play out eventually. It’s true they are all reading from the same Lunatic script, but at least they stick to the script and don’t go off improvising.

Improvising would mean Independant Thought.