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Ask the Patriarch 154
How do I tell people?

from: David Irvin

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Finally after sixteen years of being taught of the "benevolent and omnipotent" Catholic "God" I finally will not be required by my parents to go to church anymore.

My parents know of my agnosticism and only asked me to do this for the rest of my family. I am asking what would be the best way to tell the rest of my family that I am an unbeliever?

The Patriarch replies:


The important thing, given that presumably you still live at home, is that your parents know where you stand and that they are understanding and respectful of your decision. You are a lot more fortunate in your parents than a lot of other young agnostics.

But as for other members of your family - does telling them really matter? Is it any of their business? The only person who you might have an obligation to discuss your religious beliefs with is someone who you are seriously getting into a long term romantic relationship with.

Unless you want to start converting people to agnosticism (and that's a thankless endeavour) there is no real reason to volunteer the information. You don't have to initiate the discussion.

Obviously others in the family might consider it their business to ask. If you get asked why you no longer attend church, then you can simply answer that you no longer believe in what is being taught. If you get pressed, your reply could be along the lines of "I am now an agnostic. It would be hypocritical of me to continue to attend church, also it would be disrespectful of those who in all sincerity do attend."

There can be those in any family who are ready to start an argument over such things as religious differences. If the family is important to you, I suggest it is wise not to be the one who starts such an argument.

I'm not suggesting you keep your agnosticism in the closet, but I don't see that it is necessary in your case to put up a billboard advertising it either. Just openly live your life as an agnostic; you don't have to say anything.

Best wishes