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Agnostic/Atheist Support Group

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Dammit posted 5/25/2007 14:23 PM

FWH and I are both atheists yet we've always done the Xmas and Easter thing with our son. We pretty much did the same as you tootired, explained that the 'giving' aspect of Xmas is what we are celebrating. Easter was only ever about coloring eggs and lots of candy.(It's fun and Easter has the BEST candy so why not!). Although we did explain what others celebrate these holidays for ...

I will always remember the first 'religious' discussion with my son. He was 4 and asked what happened when you die... I explained that people believe so many different things, we covered quite a few and also discussed what mom and dad think. We do that with most things.

He's 16 now and pretty much following in his parents footsteps with his beliefs but we always tell him whatever he decides on the matter it's his choice and we will respect him for it.

As to Christopher Hitchens... I've not read much of his stuff but the times I've heard him in interviews etc. I think he comes off as a pompous ass.

Jimi40 posted 5/25/2007 14:42 PM

Why is it so hard to find a MC that isn't pushing the church and god and all the other bs? I just want someone who understands relationships without throwing the whole religious thing at me too.

25wimsey posted 5/25/2007 18:07 PM

I haven't listened or read Hitchens--and probably won't now that I've gotten such strong negative opinions! Too bad, I feel the more good press the atheist/agnostic point of view, the better. Guess he's not "good" press.

We've also celebrated Christmas and Easter--non-religiously. My folks who were the greatest grandparents to my kids did go to church, so the kids went with them some mornings to let H and me sleep in! Didn't seem to influence them one way or the other. And the holiday celebrations were just that--gifts and giving and traditions and singing and so on--and it was fun!

Jimi40--sorry you're having so much trouble finding a MC. I would think that unless they billed themselves as "christian therapists" so you'd know what to expect, they would follow your lead as to whether church and god etc. need enter into the therapy at all. Keep trying--a good MC is worth his/her weight in gold.

mom of 2 posted 5/25/2007 18:13 PM

I don't read in this forum often, but wanted to say I'm atheist. My WH is also, he just doesn't know yet!

Just kidding, he has his doubts, but his family is VERY religious and I doubt he would ever admit it to them or even himself at times.

Anyway, just wanted to say "hi" and let you guys know not everyone posts on this forum, but we're here.

7yrsbetrayed posted 5/26/2007 01:46 AM

We "celebrate" Xmas and Easter. We'd prefer to call Xmas "Winter Solstice" but it would just get confusing and crappy. We do not do anything religious and have no religious symbols. We decorate with a snow/snowflake/snowman theme pretty much. Or really anything secular. No angel on the top of our tree. No star either. We do Santa up BIG! I want my child(ren) to know the pure joy of believing in something magical for a few years. I miss that innocence.

Easter is just a celebration of Spring. The bunny comes. We dye and hunt eggs. Eat a bunch o' candy!

BOTH holidays originated as PAGAN celebrations of the changing seasons so I have no issue with dropping all the religious ho-ha and having some fun.

As for finding a secular therapist, try seeing if you can find a UU Church, an Humanist group, Atheist group or similar and see if they can recommend someone. Other than that, try to find someone who does not tout being a Christian counselor, steer clear of anyone working out of a church (kind of a no-brainer there LOL) You certainly don't want to be seeking counseling from a member of any clergy. Be open and honest about your beliefs and see if you can find someone who is open-minded. My IC (he's also our MC) is Jewish. Love him! My husband's IC (who specializes in SA) is very religious but also very, very open minded. Once my FWH let him know that he is an atheist his counselor has been wonderful in modifying his counseling to avoid Christian dogma. His experience has been very positive.

Skye posted 5/26/2007 08:30 AM

Jimi40, I wanted to say that whenever I start with a new therapist, I let them know right up front I'm an atheist so if their therapy is headed towards god, forget about it. Not one has "fired" me and all have left religion out of the sessions.

madseason posted 5/26/2007 08:44 AM

Wow, how did I miss this thread??

I'm pretty sure I belong here too.

I grew up having the Catholic Church shoved down my throat. We went to mass every Sunday, every Holy Day, every Holiday, you name it. My parents are still very involved in the church and I know it's a big disappointment to them that I don't go anymore. I just don't "buy it".

I did get married in the Catholic Church, however, and all three of my children were Baptized in the Catholic Church.

This may be a stupid question but can someone explain to me the difference between atheist and agnostic?

Skye posted 5/26/2007 09:09 AM

An agnostic is on the fence! An atheist "knows" there isn't a god!

According the the dictionary:

Agnostic - A person who claims that they cannot have true knowledge about the existence of God (but does not deny that God might exist; or one who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.

Atheist - One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

stunned-dad posted 5/26/2007 09:15 AM

Your definition is all wrong Skye!

Pretty sure an Agnostic is an Atheist married to a Southern Baptist.

madseason posted 5/26/2007 09:21 AM

Thanks Skye! I guess, based on your definitions, I would have to say I am agnostic.

And as far as the Christmas/Easter question, we celebrate both but not in any religious way.

stunned-dad posted 5/26/2007 09:26 AM

BTW all kidding aside, therapist with a religious approach normally will have credentials indicating some form of Christian Counseling or similar worded certification.

There are ethical guidelines that most therapist/counselors are suppose to bound by. And that includes religious tolerance with includes both faiths dramatically different than the therapist's which includes agnostic/atheist beliefs.

I am at my worst when someone wants religious counseling or counseling based on scripture because that is a specialty field with distinct training just as someone with certification in hospice counseling, grief counseling, substance abuse etc.

I do allow for a clients religion as part of assessing strengths and support systems and if they have a strong belief in God I do encourage them to follow those beliefs.

Probably my most challenging case that involves religion is a deeply religious client that knows she/he has a same sex orientation.

She/he struggles to find with her/his sexuality not because he/she is unsure if they are gay/lesbian but because he/she cannot find a scripture based religion that accepts his/her orientation. And he/she has tried numerous religions finding either they were intolerant of gay/lesbian lifestyle or that there interpretation of scripture was has been distorted to support same sex relations.

So we struggle for him/her to make sense of their issues.

Skye posted 5/26/2007 09:29 AM

SD, You definitely have the credentials to needed for the Southern Baptist--you live in GA!

Even though I'm a total non-believer, I can't imagine the conflict the believer has in all the questions of sexuality. I guess I'm lucky that I don't have that to deal with too!

ladyvorkosigan posted 5/26/2007 09:36 AM

I just always say I'm an atheist because I don't like to pussyfoot around with the whole agnostic thing.

Plus I kind of agree with Bill Maher that atheists really need to start coming out of the closet. It's easy for me to do this because I will suffer no social sanctions for doing so. I don't have any family that would penalize me for being an atheist, just don't really have people in my life who would do so, I'm not involved in a career field in which it matters, etc. So, I just go ahead and do it. I find that if you announce it sunnily, with the assumption that no one would even bother to act dismayed, nobody bothers to act dismayed. =)

As to Christopher Hitchens... I've not read much of his stuff but the times I've heard him in interviews etc. I think he comes off as a pompous ass.

Hitch is a drunk. A very very problematic drunk. Out of about 50 times I've seen him interviewed, he was only not drunk once. And that was a good interview, actually. He *is* pompous, but most of what you're seeing in interviews is drunken belligerence. You know when he casts his bleary red hooded-lizard eyes toward the interviewer as if he's trying to figure out what they're *realllllllly* trying to say? Like that look of suspicion? That's the look drunks get when they think maybe you're making fun of them. He's completely plastered 90% of the time.

[This message edited by ladyvorkosigan at 9:41 AM, May 26th (Saturday)]

Skye posted 5/26/2007 09:49 AM

Ladyv, you bring up an interesting topic. I've never been uncomfortable letting people I know I'm an atheist. And I've never been questioned about it. Most people I know well are agnostic or atheists, which may be the reason I'm not questioned.

ThyrceIdiot posted 5/31/2007 16:27 PM

I'm agnostic, and glad to see there's a thread here about support that doesn't include religion. Eh.

By the way, a counselor should not be pushing any religious beliefs on a couple, especially if you make it clear you don't feel the same way.

I want support, whether it's religious or non-religious. I blame nobody but my WH for the mess I'm in, not trying to fit it into some grand scheme or test by the almighty. Whatever.

Glad to know there are others here who feel similar.

hurtbs posted 5/31/2007 17:09 PM

I guess that FWH and I are quite lucky in the counselor section. I'm agnostic (just can't make the leap to atheist, don't have strong ennough feelings) and FWH is a non-demoninational Christian (more of an ultra-calvinist/humanist). Our MC is jewish. Of course, we found our MC in the 'godless hedonistic' city of LA.
I don't have a problem letting people know that I'm an agnostic, but I never announce it. I was raised in a very conservative religious family (no alcohol, tobaco, pre-marital sex or kinky post-marital sex), went througha crisis of faith when I was in college when I finally decided that I just didn't believe it and the evidence against it was mounting.
My parents are disappointed, but have largely gotten over it. My ILs have a real issue with it. I think they would be able to accept it if I belonged to another religion (Islam, Hindu, Buddhist), but just 'don't get' the whole lapsed Christian thing. They're real big on rapid forgiveness as it is the Christian way, and love to give me Christian advice whether i want it or not (well, I never want it).
Ahh well. Glad to see that our little group is growing. It's nice to have a non-faith based group in which to discuss our 'issues.'

rivenheart posted 6/9/2007 13:43 PM

I was raised and confirmed Catholic, in a home with one Catholic and one atheist parent. Went to Catholic school for 1-7. Gave up on Catholicism around age 12-13 and gave up on god entirely shortly after. Dabbled in "alternative" religion for a few years in my late teens/early twenties. Now I'm an atheist most days, but some days I feel more agnostic. Truth is, none of us can really know for sure. Atheism is just as much a "belief" as Christianity.

Regarding the whole forgiveness thing, and the religious aspects of forgiveness...

I'm not sure about forgiveness. Some days I think I've already forgiven him in my heart. Some days I think I'll get there eventually. I definitely do not feel any pressure to forgive him in order to "be a good person." Maybe forgiveness is a little too tied up in religion.

I was physically abused by my mother when I was young. Have I forgiven her? No, not really, because she never asked for my forgiveness and never apologized. Yet, I have a pretty good relationship with her today. I looked at my life and decided it was worth some effort on my part to see if we could have a better relationship. And we do. If the relationship had remained bad, I would have cut her out of my life. So I would say that I have made my peace with what I suffered at her hands many years ago.

On the other hand, my FWH is remorseful and has apologized repeatedly. So I think forgiveness is possible in this case. Even if I never feel in my heart that I forgive him for his ONS's, I know that I could get to the point where I'm at peace with what happened. It will take time. But I've been deeply hurt by most of the people in my life who said they loved me. At least FWH acknowledges the pain he's caused me and is doing what he can to make it right.

FWIW, I think we atheists/agnostics have it easier in some ways than those who are religious. It's painful, but we don't look for cosmic meaning where there is none. We don't engage in magical thinking, and I think in the long run we're better off for it. Of course, we don't get the pat cliches and solace that "god" provides. But we also know, when we get through the shit, that we got through it on our own strength, not through "grace."

ladyvorkosigan posted 6/9/2007 14:28 PM

Atheism is just as much a "belief" as Christianity.

I know that's a talking point with the religious, but it's not true. The absence of belief in faeries is not a belief. The absence of belief in Santa Claus is not a belief. Everyone's born an atheist. However, atheists and agnostics are often also humanists, and humanism *is* a belief system.

I know this isn't a thread to *discuss* atheism, but...really, it's problematic for atheists or agnostics to agree with that talking point. People who were once *not* atheist often clutch and ululate as *if* their current atheism is a belief, but it's the remnants of their trained religiosity peeking out, not atheism.

Really, the very fact that there's a word for the absence of belief is the problem. I mean, we don't have a word for people born without, say, feathers, or the ability to fly. Well, actually we do: humans. It's the very fact that there's an -ism associated with something that needs no -ism that creates this confusion.

[This message edited by ladyvorkosigan at 2:32 PM, June 9th (Saturday)]

25wimsey posted 6/9/2007 18:06 PM

"FWIW, I think we atheists/agnostics have it easier in some ways than those who are religious. It's painful, but we don't look for cosmic meaning where there is none. We don't engage in magical thinking, and I think in the long run we're better off for it. Of course, we don't get the pat cliches and solace that "god" provides. But we also know, when we get through the shit, that we got through it on our own strength, not through "grace"

I love the way you put this and totally agree. But it's hard either way I guess, whether one believes or not.

Forgiveness--I read someone saying once that forgiveness is overrated! I think personally my H and I will be lucky if I get to the point where I really accept, intellectually and emotionally, the whole debacle of the A and OC--and learn to live with the facts in a somewhat peaceful manner. Getting there with a H who is really trying, but not there yet. And it's been almost 2 years. Plus I have a hard time with the injustice of it all--and think that some things can't be forgiven totally, just accepted. I hope that's enough.

ladyvorkosigan posted 6/9/2007 20:43 PM

Oh, I definitely think we have it easier.

Natural disasters aside, bad things happen because people did bad things. Good things happen because people do good things.

As Sartre said, "Hell is other people"; but as Joss Whedon said, "So is Heaven."

Metaphorically speaking, of course, since both are atheists. =)

[This message edited by ladyvorkosigan at 8:53 PM, June 9th (Saturday)]

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