How to confront religious issues with inlaws?

I was raised in a Baptist church. Until the age of 13 when I began asking questions as to the actuality of God & Jesus that is, then I was asked to not come back because I was “putting doubt into the others minds”. I struggled for years as to the reality of a God, I am at the point now I consider myself Athiest.

Here is my dilemma, my in laws are God fearing cult like people that refuse to even hear my points. My husband sometimes feels torn but I assure him his belief in God is great because that is what brings him comfort in life. We have two children that we have agreed will not be subjected to the often times fearful introduction of religion until they are old enough to develop their own values on the subject. However my mother in law insists on instilling the fear of hell into our children at every opportunity she gets. I have told her straight out what my and her sons feelings are on introducing our children to religion and I have told her I am atheist, but she says you just have issues with God and you will work it out!!! Holy crap DUH get it already I DO NOT BELIEVE!

Sorry, any how my question is how do I get it through this womans head (and my sister in laws) that we do not want them distrupting the course we have our children on? They have our children believing I am going to hell because I do not believe in God and if they don’t believe in God they too will go to hell. I want my children to learn about the possibility of a God on their terms when the time is right for them. Please give any suggestions as to how to get these cult like people to back off of my children before I completely hurt all of their feelings!

Answer #1

I have taken many courses related to religion and the beliefs of people in many regions and Christians are always the first to try to instill fear and hatred to nonbelievers of the Christian faith. Why?

As I already said before warning someone of some danger is not using fear tactics. If we know of a danger it is our duty to warn people. If the person involved is a close relative as in your case it become even more critical for the person who knows about the danger to warn the other. Therefore your in-laws are right in what they are doing. However I agree with you totally that the way your in-laws are doing it is WRONG. I agree that the way they are doing it does instill fear into the children and they must stop doing it that way. If they do not know the right way to do it they should stop doing it altogether.

My question is what is the best way to be straight forward with the in laws to show them we mean business without totally relinquishing the relationship.

I would suggest that you talk to your husband and get it across to him first that your in-laws are not doing it the right way and need to stop. Then both of you should sit with them and have a level headed family discussion. Never let your anger or irritation disturb the discussion and try not to end the discussion without getting a fix on the issue. Remember a win-win situation mostly works. So the discussion must end in a way beneficial to both parties.

Hope you handle the discussion properly

Answer #2

It never ceases to amaze me that many “well meaning” Christians are very misinformed and misuse scripture and out of fear mongering try to convince people that they are correct when they themselves aren’t able to articulate with any real sense of accuracy why they believe what they believe. That being said, it’s unfortunate that people in your life have given you the wrong idea about God. Instead of answering your tough questions they, out of their ingorance, ask you to leave because they think you’re “rocking the boat”. That’s too bad. Everyone individually irrespective of their place in this life will have to make a choice to believe in God or not. Your children are the most important gift God has bestowed to you here on earth and it’s your responsibility to give them the necessary information to make a conscious and purposefull decision on their own. By using any form of fear tactics to pursuade one’s mind is not only detremental it’s only going to give the person the wrong idea of who God really is. Your in laws should instead pray for you and your children if they do so choose. Share their faith and what God means to them and how their relationship with Him has blessed their soul, not stand over them with a switch and say, “believe or else!!” You say you’ve read the bible. O.k. did you ever read the passage that says, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This fear is not one of terror but of reverence. It tells us that we are not to be afraid of God but rather understand better and respect who He is. If you don’t want to believe in God any more then that’s your choice. Say to your in laws that if they can’t share their faith without driving a misguided fear into the children, then they should keep to themselves and not share it because they are not representing God in the proper light. Bottom line: Give the children the information and let them choose for themselves. This process should take a long time be patient.

Answer #3

*If you are the loving father of your kids (like god is for you) would you, stand by watching your kids being murdered by someone, without saving them??? If it is in your power? Yes, you love them and even if you have to risk being killed yourself, YOU WOULD HELP THEM!!!

Already answered two above, same thing.* NO YOU DIDNT !!! You just gave me the IN HUMAN godly explanation! What are you? In Human?

Please think of this rationally and give an honest answer? Ok I will.. YOU APARENTLY ARE NOT CAPABLE TO AND ARE NOT A PARENT OR ABLE TO MAKE HUMANLY DECISIONS, OTHERWISE YOU WOULD HAVE REALISED WHAT I AM TRYING TO POINT OUT AND ANSWER ACCORDING TO THAT! But enough of you, like my spider friend said, this is not about you or your god!

Mommabear, sorry for getting destructed like that;-)
I would suggest you Google Religions wiki, Google religious delusion, religious bubble and maybe let your hubby read some more on this and more about your point of view. From what I understand from you, he is supportive, but unfortunately such religious differences cause problems in the long run. Since your kids are still small, there is still a good 15-17 years of battle to face, if this is not fixed now. The more he understands of your point, chances are, and he might also be able to see the delusion in future and you truly needs his support, believe me.
Your in-laws having your kids believing you’re going to hell, isn’t that condemning you? That is against their very own bible!!! According to their bible, they apparently are going to the same place their sending you!!! Tell them that and let them try to make sense out of that ;-) It took me more than 6 months to make my hubby understand why I feel the way I do. But I must say, he is 5yrs older than me and like I’ve said on previous posts, it seems the older the religious person, the more difficult it is to lay off the religious/superstitious beliefs. He can only now see the ridiculous and delusional claims made, when pointed out. My kids were already teens when I discovered all this, unfortunately very late in my life, but I immediately offered them the information to use their “rational” minds to make sense out of it. They were immediately able to realize that christianity, hiduism, buddhism etc are all part of the same delusion and I didn’t have to introduce any others to them.

Good luck to you :-)

Answer #4

Mommabearto2- nice to know there are other people who want their children to make up their own minds (when they are old enough), rather than having them blindly indoctrinated. My parents did the same thing to me, and I consider myself to have been incredibly lucky for it.

I think people here are absolutely right in saying that any access your mother/sister in law gets to your children should be supervised if this is the way they are behaving. They are undermining you as a parent, which I think is absolutely wrong. I also don’t think it should be entirely up to you to confront your in-laws about the issue, I think your husband needs to come in to support, and let his family know that this is how you both have chosen to raise your children, and while you welcome their help and support, it has to be on your terms.

As others have also said, the hurt can’t be avoided. It’s a sad but true reality that your in-laws will not like to be challenged like this, but you have every right to have your children’s best interests at heart.

Also when someone talks about hell they are almost always accused of using fear tactics or instilling fear. Can I ask you one question? If someone finds a child walking on the railway tracks and warns him about the dangers of walking on tracks would that be instilling fear?

If you warn a child of the dangers of walking on train tracks, it’s because there is a very real chance of a train coming along and hitting them. Whereas, warning them about ‘Satan’ and hellfire is like scaring them with ghost stories. Trains are a real threat. The existence of ‘Hell’, ‘Satan’ and ‘God’ is up for debate.

Answer #5

Thank you to all that have offered advice on how to confront the issue!

David do you think we, as atheists, haven’t already heard all the scrutiny and disapproval you could possibly try to spout? I spent many years in a church learning the bible, being forced to memorize scriptures so as to highlight the few lines that make some sense. However in today’s society if a swindler that lives a town over changes his name and comes to your town with a business proposal would you think he is still the same con artist he was before the name change? Of course as would any of us, however one of the deciplies in the bible is just that. Since you know the Bible so well you could tell me who that is correct?

Read over Proverbs 23 and tell me if child abuse is wrong, because it is supported in the bible not only in proverbs but also in several other sections of the bible. The bible has been and will be for years nothing more than a way to brainwash people into believing in a story line that is no more relevant to our livelyhood than maggot crap.

Now that being said, I do not wish to sway my children from believing in God or Jesus (whatever their beliefs may lead them to) I want them to learn the principals of many religions and develop their own understanding of the positive of many religions when they are mentally developed enough to decifer through all the muck thrown their way. My in laws are dead set they will make them fear religion so they have no choice but to believe. In my opinion that is mental and developmental abuse. No one has the right to instill a fear as great as a burning firey pit into any child.

One other thing before I go. This is something the religious nuts, like yourself, cannot understand. People like me DO NOT BELIEVE in your fairytale bible stories. Therefore accounts of how we will be cast to hell for not believing do not bother us because we believe it is all a bunch of hot air. To say we deny our maker is wrong to us because to us we are here not because of a God but because of the natural process of combined elements. Leave the preaching in church and to the ones that have a clue about what it is they believe happened.

Answer #6

First of all I must say that the Church that you attended as a child did not act correctly by asking you to stop coming. They should have cleared all your doubts instead. I am sorry that such churches exist.

Now coming to the issue there is no point trying to stop your in-laws because they believe that they are right just as much as you believe that you are right. You believe that there is no heaven and hell but are you absolutely sure of this? You may believe anything thing you choose but are you absolutely sure that there is no God? If so how are you sure? If you are not sure, then by preventing your children from being taught about God, you might well be leading your children into danger.

Moreover, if you are sure that your view of God is correct then why worry. Let your in-laws teach the child about their view and you teach your children your view so that when they grow up they have both views and can choose the one that they find logical.

Also when someone talks about hell they are almost always accused of using fear tactics or instilling fear. Can I ask you one question? If someone finds a child walking on the railway tracks and warns him about the dangers of walking on tracks would that be instilling fear?

Answer #7

arachnid… thank you. Everything you said in your response is pretty much right on what my response would have been. I may or may not be right in my beliefs, none of us know with absolute certainty. However, I am not saying I do not want my children to learn of many religions. I am saying I do not want frivolous threats to hamper the development of what they feel is right in their hearts. I do not believe anything should be introduced as a threat of horrible actions if one does not believe 100% in it.

It never ceases to amaze me how close minded many Christian people are yet do not really understand what it is they supposedly believe in. I have taken many courses related to religion and the beliefs of people in many regions and Christians are always the first to try to instill fear and hatred to nonbelievers of the Christian faith. Why?

Everyone has the right to believe as they chose and as far as my children go, if they decide to believe the bible and the christian belief and that brings them comfort in their lives great! I will never deny them any religion or non religion, but I will not have someone threatening my children with fiery pits and a life banned to horrible things. My question is what is the best way to be straight forward with the in laws to show them we mean business without totally relinquishing the relationship. After all this is my husbands family, as nutty as they are sometimes they are family and we do not want to end relations with them but at the same time demand respect of our decisions.

Answer #8

—You believe that there is no heaven and hell but are you absolutely sure of this? You may believe anything thing you choose but are you absolutely sure that there is no God? If so how are you sure?—

That’s a false standard. You don’t need to be absolutely sure - just reasonably sure. Are you absolutely sure there are no gnomes? Do you put out cream for them just in case?

—If you are not sure, then by preventing your children from being taught about God, you might well be leading your children into danger.—

The poster made it clear that she’s not trying to prevent her children from learning about religions - she’s merely trying to ensure they can educate themselves, rather than be scared into it with threats of hellfire.

—Moreover, if you are sure that your view of God is correct then why worry. Let your in-laws teach the child about their view and you teach your children your view so that when they grow up they have both views and can choose the one that they find logical.—

Because there’s piles of evidence that childhood indoctrination is extremely hard to overcome for most people. As much as we like to think we are, we’re not entirely rational creatures.

Answer #9

Other commenters: Please don’t let “brotherdavid” derail this thread with his tired, much-debunked creationist claims. The original poster has a legitimate question, and deserves proper answers, not another 5-page argument. :)

“My in laws are dead set they will make them fear religion so they have no choice but to believe. In my opinion that is mental and developmental abuse. No one has the right to instill a fear as great as a burning firey pit into any child.”

Very, very well put. This is exactly what worries me, and I couldn’t have put it better: The prospect that religious fundamentalists will attempt to take away a child’s ability to think rationally about these matters by scaring them into thinking they have to believe in their particular brand of religion.

Answer #10

OMG Brotherdavid can’t we ask you the exact same question???

How can YOU believe in God? Was there ANY but ANY definite proof AFTER the bible was written approximately 2000 years ago, that ANY god (Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Judaism) exist???

Did any god save all the people when Tsunami’s, earth quacks, floods occurred in the past 2000 years? NO

Please don’t give me the story of: We don’t always know the wishes of our gods, because that just doesn’t make sense! If so, clarify the following to me:

If you are the loving father of your kids (like god is for you) would you, stand by watching your kids being murdered by someone, without saving them??? If it is in your power? Yes, you love them and even if you have to risk being killed yourself, YOU WOULD HELP THEM!!!

OR would you tell people afterwards, they wouldn’t always know your wishes, you had another plan with your kids to be murdered?

So if your god is “all mighty” (and really exists) WHY WOULD HE NOT HELP MILLIONS OF PEOPLE IN NEED, BECAUSE IT IS APPARENTLY IN HIS POWER, ACCORDING TO YOU!

Please think of this rationally and give an honest answer?

Answer #11

Whoa.Yeh what you have to remember is that religion is a sensitive subject. Especially when it comes to a devout christian family.But what you have to make them realize is that this is your family. & what maybe right for them does not mean that it is gonna be right for everyone else.The one thing that bothers me about religion is that it divides people. It always has & it always will.But it is very hard to change a persons belief.Especially when it comes to religion.Point out to them that one can be spiritual without being religious. & that what they are actually doing is scaring the kids into believing rather than guiding them & thats not what the God concept is about.also remember that you also do not want to sway them away from God but rather let them get an understanding of there own of both concepts & let them choose on there own which one they want to stick with. In the end,it’s all about them & what makes them happy! Hope this helps.

Answer #12

I ran into a similar question,just because you don’t believe in God doesn’t mean that your going to hell,I’m Atheist and my mom said the same thing to me. I told her that she need to accept me and my beliefs or I will stop talking to her,rest assure,she doesn’t accept me as one so I stopped talking to her and began talking to her through notes.

Tell your mom and sister in law that if they keep trying to BRAIN WASH your kids then you will stop contacting her until she accepts you and your beliefs,that’s like she’s shoving it down your throat. The next time that you do see her,simply say:

Mom,I’m Atheist,and I would like it if you would accept me as one and stop bothering me about my kids and s=telling them I’ll go to hell cause I don’t believe in him,your suppose to support me,not throw me down. Don’t question my beliefs ok,it’s not right,end of story.

Hope I helped,I’ll continue if you need more advice about this.

Raven

Answer #13

Can I ask you one question? If someone finds a child walking on the railway tracks and warns him about the dangers of walking on tracks would that be instilling fear?

Choo-choos and choo-choo-tracks have NOTHING to do with religion…

Answer #14

So back to the subject at hand?

They’re your kids… make it clear that unless they stop, they will not have contact with the kids… As for feelings being hurt… There’s no way to prevent that. They are stepping on your toes, and they need to stop…

Answer #15

Eternallife Can I ask you one question? If someone finds a child walking on the railway tracks and warns him about the dangers of walking on tracks …

So Eternallife, if you warned the child and he ignored you AND the train squashes his small body all over the track, is this what he deserved for not listening? Or would this also be a case of: We don’t know what God has planned for us? Because he apparently “again” had the opportunity to save the kid, but yet he didn’t!

WOULD YOU AS HUMAN, STAND BY WATCHING A TRAIN DRIVE OVER A CHILD NOT TRYING TO SAVE HIM AFTER YOU WARNED HIM??? Or is there a possibility that there simply wasn’t anybody watching over the poor child in the first place?

Answer #16

“How can anyone not believe in God? Even Satan believes in God.”

Your inability to conceive of atheists doesn’t mean we don’t exist. This question really isn’t the place to proselytize. Please refrain from it.

Answer #17

I think your only option is to ensure you don’t leave them alone with your kids until you can get some sort of assurance that they won’t try to proselytize to them.

Answer #18

We have had more problems with other kids than adults.

Some of my daughter’s friends go to a church that tells kids that when their non-Christian friends descend into Hell that they will have to hear them ask why they didn’t save them when they had the chance. So the kids motivated by pity, fear, and guilt try to save all their friends.

A couple of times my daughter came home from a play date and announced that she accepted Jesus and is now a Christian. Of course she still believes in the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny so we don’t worry too much about her believing in another imaginary friend for the time being.

Answer #19

You might consider filing a lawsuit. That’ll shut them up.

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