Hi J0SH, welcome!
I can relate to your story. It took years for me to let go of the hell doctrine - I knew I didn't believe in God, but still thought I was going to hell because I didn't believe in God - until I was FINALLY able to see just how f'ed up that thinking really was. Conditioning works, and religion is all about conditioning believers to follow a certain set of "rules" without question. A lot like military training, come to think of it.
People believe all kinds of stupid things, and they tend to dig in deep if those beliefs are questioned, or if given evidence that their beliefs are wrong (see the huge thread titled "please validate your belief in your god" for a fine example of fingers-in-ears-hollering-la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you in action). Too much of one's identity can get caught up in beliefs about external things, and no one likes having their world-view challenged.
Most of my (birth) family has become more devout as we've gotten older - I'm the only one who went the other direction, although one brother hasn't gone all fundamentalist so far. My parents and siblings don't know of my atheism, and I don't see that changing anytime soon - maybe after my parents pass, but not before. My mother would be devastated and I'm not willing to do that to her.