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Main Discussion Zone => General Religious Discussion => Topic started by: madeline on October 15, 2012, 04:13:58 PM

Title: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 15, 2012, 04:13:58 PM
Not sure how to approach this...I need help! I just recently moved to N.C. with my 14 yr old daughter..We are from N.Y.
Our atheism, while not well received, has never been faced with anger until now.
It seems that my beliefs are viewed as if I killed the messiah myself..
should I pretend for my daughters sake that we believe?
Any insight would be helpful.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Garja on October 15, 2012, 04:20:50 PM
Not sure how to approach this...I need help! I just recently moved to N.C. with my 14 yr old daughter..We are from N.Y.
Our atheism, while not well received, has never been faced with anger until now.
It seems that my beliefs are viewed as if I killed the messiah myself..
should I pretend for my daughters sake that we believe?
Any insight would be helpful.

Wow.  I dont really know your situation entirely so I would be reticent to offer much in the way of advice.  I wouldn't feel right lying outright and claiming belief that I didn't have but I certainly wouldn't want to put your daughter in any kind of danger either.  May I ask specifically what happened?  I dont mean to pry but may help the community give more in the way of advice.

Best of luck,
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 15, 2012, 04:35:59 PM
Garja..thanks so much for the reply! I have been a proud  atheist for years in N.Y.  Due to life changes I moved my daughter and myself to N.C. My Daughter plays travel softball..she found a team..tried out..got position as catcher. All good right? WRONG!!! First game..they huddle...I'm use to this..in N.Y. we talk about kickin ass...crap apparently in N.C. we ask god to protect us..wtf? My daughter popped her head up..looked at me with horror on her face..she kicked ass anyway..but was worried that she didnt know the lords prayer for the next game..
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Garja on October 15, 2012, 04:42:09 PM
I guess I would attempt to just stay quiet about it for the time being.  I am a relatively new atheist, but have been absorbing as much info as I can.... I know for me, some of my closest friends and family know that I no longer believe, but I live in a fairly conservative area as well so I do not go shouting it from the rooftops that I think believing in god is kinda dumb.

I think that if pressured to talk about it in a situation that I wasn't comfortable with I would just politely say something along the lines of "I have nothing against people who believe in god, I am not out to convert anyone, I just do not personally believe in he existence of any supernatural beings".  If they want to be dicks at that point I would point out that the bible says "love thy neighbor" and just walk away.  Thats my 2cents anyway.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 15, 2012, 04:49:00 PM
Thanks for your 2 cents! While I was "out" as an atheist in N.Y. I believe I was just tolerated..Here in N.C. I feel like I am committing a crime. I feel so bad for my daughter..she is only 14..maybe i should have kept my views to myself..
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Nick on October 15, 2012, 05:02:57 PM
They will persecute your daughter . 
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 15, 2012, 05:11:47 PM
so how do I protect her?
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 15, 2012, 05:23:44 PM
can't..thanks
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Nick on October 15, 2012, 05:31:41 PM
I don't know.  At that age level any sign of difference is often attacked.  In NC atheists is like having the AIDS.  Good luck with this one.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 15, 2012, 05:38:59 PM
Thanks Nick..lol
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Chronos on October 15, 2012, 05:42:19 PM
Thanks for your 2 cents! While I was "out" as an atheist in N.Y. I believe I was just tolerated..Here in N.C. I feel like I am committing a crime. I feel so bad for my daughter..she is only 14..maybe i should have kept my views to myself..

I have a high school friend living in South Carolina, and she and I are politically far apart (she's quite libertarian, I'm quite progressive) but we get along anyway (she's a wrap-around libertarian). However, she's atheist. Regardless of the political culture in South Carolina matching her own, she has repeatedly said she would love to move to Maryland mainly due to the god-is-everything atmosphere in South Carolina.

I also have a cousin who is very Christian and is a professor at a Christian college in South Carolina. She loves it down there. She hated living in New Jersey. Besides New Jersey being a bit uptight (all northern states are), I'm sure the lack of protestants in New Jersey contributed to her move to South Carolina.

It would take an awful lot for me to move south of the Potomac.


Nevertheless, that doesn't provide you with any help. If I were in your shoes, I would probably just keep my mouth shut. If directly asked, I couldn't bring myself to lie about my beliefs but if you moved because your daughter loves what she is doing, then you both get to decide which is worth more -- softball or non-belief. I can't see how you won't be asked repeatedly which church you attend.

I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that the closer you are to the Triangle the less fanatical the people would be. Lots of people with advanced degrees there, especially science and engineering. Outside of the Triangle, well, Praise Jesus!


Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Eddie Schultz on October 15, 2012, 05:52:29 PM
Hello madeline, and welcome to the forum.  :)

The first thing I would do is get in touch with any and all atheist groups in your area. NC is a big believing state, but they do have atheists as well.

Here's what came up when I did a search for "North Carolina Atheist group".

http://www.bing.com/search?q=north%20carilna%20atheist%20groups&pc=conduit&ptag=A792384B768404A45B1F&form=CONMHP&conlogo=CT3210127&ShowAppsUI=1

The "non religious' is on the rise, and I don't see it declining. Please don't lie to protect your daughter, it's a step backwards if you do. Remember, we're NOT the crazy ones.  ;)

Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Quesi on October 15, 2012, 06:10:23 PM
First of all, welcome to the forum.  I hope that you find support and inspiration and just good thought provoking stuff here.

Secondly, I so sorry to hear about your family's situation.  Honestly, I don't know what to suggest.  Your daughter's welfare is certainly your priority.  And at 14, I think she needs to be part of the decision making process.

What does she want to do?  Can you both sort of sit and wait it out and watch and learn before making a decision of how you want to handle it?  Or are you sort of out already?

I really agree with Eddie.  I think you need to find an atheist group, and go to them for both support, and strategies for interacting with your greater community. 
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Nam on October 15, 2012, 06:21:41 PM
I see the whole sports thing as being no big deal. Huddling together, saying what not, and your daughter can just leave out the "god" part. I used to do that in school when I was forced to say the pledge.

Don't let people push you around, push back or they'll always push you around.

-Nam
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 15, 2012, 06:24:00 PM
Thank you all to the forum!! I'm so confused about what to do..to be honest I'm afraid..in N.Y. I had a support group..here I am alone..
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Nam on October 15, 2012, 06:38:10 PM
You're not alone. There are others just like you there. There are also those there who may be religious but won't judge you for not being religious. You also have support of those on websites like this. You sought us out you can do the same in the community you're in. Take it from not only a fellow atheist but a Southerner.

There are plenty of us Southerners on this website who are tolerant of others. Not all Southerners, even in North Carolina, fit the stereotypical cliches attributed to them.

-Nam
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 15, 2012, 06:44:36 PM
I kinda feel like Nick is right..like I have aids..lol..I don't have aids..I'm from N.Y. but I know what a condom is..lol
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: bgb on October 15, 2012, 08:08:18 PM
I have on occasion stated my belief or lack of is private.  Works for a while.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: JeffPT on October 15, 2012, 10:06:02 PM
As an atheist resident of Massachusetts and Connecticut for most of my life, and a transplant to South Carolina, let me just say that I know your pain.  I have 3 sons, all of whom play sports.  Most of the teams they've been on do a prayer before each game, even though I get annoyed by it.  In a few years, I plan on starting a travel baseball team for my youngest (currently 4 years old) son, and you can bet cash money that we will never, ever pray before a game as a team.  But if kids want to pray by themselves, I'd be fine with it. 

What I tell my kids is to just go along with it.  It's really not a big deal.  If other people want to pray, let them pray.   Your daughter can sit there and do nothing and it's all good.  In fact, while I really like to see my oldest son hit doubles and triples, some of the proudest moments I've had as a parent are when their teams huddle to pray and I catch my son looking over at me and shaking his head just enough for me to see. 

I keep my atheism to myself down here and I recommend you do the same for safety's sake.  If you were single, independently wealthy, had no children, and not afraid of a backlash, then I would recommend the opposite.  Only a select few people know that I'm atheist (really anti-theist at this point), and I keep it that way because I fear for my safety and for my job.  I'm not joking about that.  It's fucking serious.  Make no mistake, you WILL encounter religious conversations.  Prepare for it.  Another thing to prepare yourself for... if you thought religion was simply false before and you had no emotional investment in the god question, living in the South as an atheist can and probably will slowly fill you with anger.  Take it from me.  I used to not care about religion.  Now... Well... lets just say I care and leave it at that. 


Title: Re: Help..
Post by: ParkingPlaces on October 15, 2012, 10:22:54 PM
madeline

Welcome to WWGHA. I do hope that once we've solved your current problem with our sage and sound advice, you stick around to enjoy other discussions.

JeffPT probably has it about right. Life tosses us a constant barrage of reality checks and you've encountered one of the more obvious ones. This may well be a good time to limit your vocal objections to that bad call at 2nd base and leave the issue of prayer and other obvious religious crap to some non-vocal part of your brain. The whole experience will be a good opportunity for your teenaged daughter to learn about some of the types of conflicts she will have to deal with as she grows into adulthood. Her exposure to religion via an unwelcome pre-game ritual will help her learn something about how ignorance tries to work itself into the bowels of life, one infection at a time. It is similar to bullying, a dastardly practice, which has tons of downsides, but that, like this exposure to religion, helps prepare the young for some of the idiotic stuff they'll have to deal with as adults.

Surely there must be people you two can interact with and befriend who are not caught up in the stereotypes. I have friends in your state who are married, even though one is black and the other white, so I'm guessing it is possible to buck the system at least a little bit and survive unmarred.

Hopefully your daughter will be able to see the issue as more proof that religion is icky rather than a reason to give in and start attending church or something. Knowing virtually nothing about either of you, I can only hope that she has the strength and you have the endurance to deal with this unfortunate set of circumstances.

Look at the bright side. They ain't shooting at us yet.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Nam on October 16, 2012, 12:14:42 AM
Y'all make it sound like the south is just a pit of hell. Maybe other southerners here agree with you but I don't. Yes, it has its bad parts but don't sit there and tell me there's no prejudice in New England. There's prejudice everywhere. There's racism everywhere. There are people who hate others not like them, everywhere.

I've lived in the south all but 2 or so years of my life (which was in Germany), and to an "outsider" I guess it could be seen in such a guise but if I moved to the places y'all have lived in New England, I'd probably feel similar but I wouldn't vocalize it as being something it actually may not be. That would just be a segment of change. A different environment. Something I'm not used to.

I really want to say something else but I'll hold it back.

-Nam
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Poseidon on October 16, 2012, 01:06:58 AM
Sounds like you might be a single mom with a 14 year old daughter. That is a tough enough deal, certainly more difficult if you are exposed to social derision and you will be exposed to derision if you are out.

The moms that I know, and the dads too, would unhesitatingly kill for their daughters. I am on that list. You are herewith excused, maybe even admired, for lying like a bitch to protect your child. Stay in the closet of the damned to protect your daughter and yourself. I know and hate the pain but that is one of the prices you pay for subscribing to reality, most particularly in the brain dead bible belt.
 
I agree with Nam in that all southerners are neither stupid nor judgemental. (That reminds me....somewhere in the KJV are gods instructions: Judge not lest ye be judged.)  You can find a peer group that will accept and welcome you as you are.

As a last resort take a run at a Unitarian church. Grit your teeth and go a few times. That'll give you some cover. The Unitarians are usually pretty cool. They even poke fun at the fundies. I actually know a few Unitarian atheists. Also the Untarians are comfortable with the LGBT set so they can't be too nutty.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Add Homonym on October 16, 2012, 04:47:11 AM
There is actually room to out-Christian the Christians. Most don't have a clue what is written in Matt 5-7; the Sermon on the mount - yet it's the core of Christianity. Memorize it.

It says that Christians are supposed to love and pray for those who persecute and despitefully use them. Notice how you are not persecuting them or using them, yet you feel persecuted by them. I'm sure you can bring that up, somehow.

You are supposed to pray in secret (Matt 6:6). If they ask you to a prayer meeting, then whip that one out.

You are supposed to love your religious enemies. The reason you feel scared, is that you are surrounded by Church bigots that Christ abhorred. The Christian church is a lot like the Jewish establishment that Jesus was disemboweling, so there is plenty of room to point out errors they are making.

[15] Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
[16] Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
[17] Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
[18] A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
[19] Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
[20] Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/k/kjv/kjv-idx?type=DIV1&byte=4380943

Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Brakeman on October 16, 2012, 05:47:52 AM
Thank you all to the forum!! I'm so confused about what to do..to be honest I'm afraid..in N.Y. I had a support group..here I am alone..

Check for meet-up groups in your area. Go to meetup.com and see if there are any secular humanists or atheists groups nearby.

We have a small group here in Columbia, SC, and they were very nice.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Chronos on October 16, 2012, 06:05:02 AM
I kinda feel like Nick is right..like I have aids..lol..I don't have aids..I'm from N.Y. but I know what a condom is..lol

You have to decide what you want and what you are willing to endure.

The "South" has a much higher percentage of adherents to religion, especially evangelicals. They exercise their religion at every opportunity. While I can put up with a prayer here and there, I cannot put up with mixing religion into the laws of the land. The "South" is apt to do exactly that. This is why it would take something much greater for me to move "south".

You do have support. There will be atheists around you, but they dare not speak their lack of belief. Imagine you are a homosexual in 1955 -- you will have to carefully feel under the table to determine if you have found someone like yourself. A careful glance or wink at an opportune moment is what it will take to reveal others like you who are otherwise putting up appearances in order to survive.

As Poseidon said, a Unitarian Universalist church is a good option. I have considered going to one. My local UU has an entire evening devoted to doubters and skeptics (which is redundant as it seems most Unitarians are). Apparently they discuss things like logic, morality and spirituality. In fact, they would appear to be a very nice shield for you and your daughter to carry whenever things begin to veer into Christianity. To identify yourself publicly as an atheist can make you a target of ridicule or vandalism. To identify as Unitarian would likely confuse them -- they probably have little idea what it is.

Whenever there is a call for a religious rally in Washington DC, of any kind, we can count on several hundred church buses from North Carolina and South Carolina (NC is bigger). An anti-abortion rally in DC can cause NC population to drop by 200,000. They don't just drive their buses in and drop-off their membership, no, those buses enter DC while rocking back-and-forth to the members singing and moving, chanting, etc. These people mean business.

So, yeah Nam, the "South" is a lot more religious and doesn't much put up well with people who aren't. Maybe your part of the "South" is better or maybe you are just accustomed to it. If you were to live in the "North", you would immediately see and feel the difference. When it comes to sporting events in the "South", I fully expect "Contact Christianity" to be part of the game.


Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Brakeman on October 16, 2012, 06:17:51 AM
If I were to stoop so low, I could simply give myself a religious label, christian or jew, and start drinking like a fish on college game night and I'd fit in like Finn here in SC.

The common christian here is extremely hypocritical. Their beliefs cannot interfere with their fun.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Pounamu on October 16, 2012, 06:18:06 AM
There is actually room to out-Christian the Christians.
This is exactly what I would do.

The response to this:
First game..they huddle...I'm use to this..in N.Y. we talk about kickin ass...crap apparently in N.C. we ask god to protect us..wtf? My daughter popped her head up..looked at me with horror on her face..she kicked ass anyway..but was worried that she didnt know the lords prayer for the next game..
is really this:
You are supposed to pray in secret (Matt 6:6). If they ask you to a prayer meeting, then whip that one out.

Madeline, note also that Matthew 6:6-8 comes right before Matthew 6:9-13, which is the very lord's prayer ;)
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: bertatberts on October 16, 2012, 06:48:28 AM
Hi Madeline, and welcome.

As already said, Matt 6, is all you really need. The very first line condemns going to Church. It states NIV Matt 6:1 Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness  before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So keep a little copy of the bible in your bag, if possible, it looks good to locals and it helps you educate them to Matt 6.
Your daughter could just say  "prayer is a private thing, Matt 6 tells us this"; That is all she needs to know.   
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: jetson on October 16, 2012, 06:54:17 AM
Y'all make it sound like the south is just a pit of hell. Maybe other southerners here agree with you but I don't. Yes, it has its bad parts but don't sit there and tell me there's no prejudice in New England. There's prejudice everywhere. There's racism everywhere. There are people who hate others not like them, everywhere.

I've lived in the south all but 2 or so years of my life (which was in Germany), and to an "outsider" I guess it could be seen in such a guise but if I moved to the places y'all have lived in New England, I'd probably feel similar but I wouldn't vocalize it as being something it actually may not be. That would just be a segment of change. A different environment. Something I'm not used to.

I really want to say something else but I'll hold it back.

-Nam

The Bible belt defies your point.  No one ever said that there is no prejudice elsewhere.  But whatever you have imagined you might feel if you moved to New England, it would certainly not be anything like getting a large dose of southern "religious" hospitality for someone who has never lived here.  This is a distinct issue that certainly does have a geographic aspect to its veracity.

I've been in Texas for close to 40 years, and I moved to Connecticut for about a year back in 2000.  So I got to experience New England, and I would have loved to find a way to stay there.  The higher cost of living is offset by the more diverse attitudes towards religions, IMO.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: screwtape on October 16, 2012, 08:20:47 AM
Not sure how to approach this...I need help! I just recently moved to N.C. with my 14 yr old daughter..We are from N.Y.

Being from the north, especially NY (city?), is enough for them.  I'd not broadcast that, but I wouldn't lie.  Same with the atheist stuff.

I would however, get armed.  To the teeth.  Look into a concealed carry permit and get one if it is legal there.  It's the south, so I assume it comes automatically with a driver's permit.  So get that and take as many gun training courses you can afford.  I say with with absolute seriousness.

You might also consider a security system with cameras.  They are pretty cheap nowadays.

Also, find a sympathetic lawyer now.  You probably won't need one, but better to have one lined up and not need one, than need one and not have one.

You might find this book fun.  Just don't read it in public down there. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/10/14/1142774/-Book-review-Chuck-Thompson-s-Better-Off-Without-Em-A-Northern-Manifesto-for-Southern-Secession

Man.  I fucking hate the south.

Title: Re: Help..
Post by: naemhni on October 16, 2012, 08:29:25 AM
I would however, get armed.  To the teeth.  Look into a concealed carry permit and get one if it is legal there.  It's the south, so I assume it comes automatically with a driver's permit.  So get that and take as many gun training courses you can afford.  I say with with absolute seriousness.

Since you're new here, I'd also add that screwtape is not a huge fan of firearms, so if he's recommending you arm yourself, it's an indication of how serious he thinks the situation is.

Carry is, as screwtape surmises, lawful in North Carolina.  Permit information can be found here:
http://www.usacarry.com/north_carolina_concealed_carry_permit_information.html

Quote
You might also consider a security system with cameras.  They are pretty cheap nowadays.

True.  Web-based interfaces and even live feeds over the web are common these days.  I've considered them myself, but it hasn't been a high priority for me due to my circumstances.

Quote
Also, find a sympathetic lawyer now.  You probably won't need one, but better to have one lined up and not need one, than need one and not have one.

If you do follow this advice, be sure to screen carefully.  I would hate to see you get a lawyer who's secretly a bible-banger and works to get you thrown under a bus instead of actually representing you.

Quote
Man.  I fucking hate the south.

So much beautiful scenery and nice weather and everything soiled by all that religion.  It's a shame.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: screwtape on October 16, 2012, 08:41:08 AM
Since you're new here, I'd also add that screwtape is not a huge fan of firearms, so if he's recommending you arm yourself, it's an indication of how serious he thinks the situation is.

I actually love guns.  I just don't trust anyone else with them. 

I think every atheist should be armed to the hilt.  When the shit hits the fan, you know the fundies will be looking for you.  I'm deliquent on that bit of preparation, myself. 

Title: Re: Help..
Post by: naemhni on October 16, 2012, 08:53:58 AM
I actually love guns.  I just don't trust anyone else with them.

Heh.  I know that feeling.  Especially when I'm at the firing range and getting swept.  Grrr.

Quote
I think every atheist should be armed to the hilt.  When the shit hits the fan, you know the fundies will be looking for you.  I'm deliquent on that bit of preparation, myself.

It's hard to make it a priority, with the cost and everything.  I have a fairly good collection, but I need to add a rifle at some point.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand...

Madeline, I hate to advise anyone to lie, especially since no one should have to, but concealing your "orientation" may be the better choice if, as you say, you have weak points that can be exploited.  By way of comparison, being an atheist today is kind of like being gay in the Seventies, or black in the Fifties.  As far as civil rights are concerned, we have a long way to go in this country regarding religious freedom and tolerance.  As much as it pains me to say it, it sounds to me like you (like most people) may need to compromise your principles somewhat to ensure your safety.

Do what you need to do to protect yourself and your family.  Let those of us for whom it is safe to be "out", to be out and work on changing public perception in this department.  We won't hold it against you.  *g*

If you're feeling up to it, you might want to call in to the podcast show "The Atheist Experience".  AE has a rotating set of hosts -- the best one I think you could talk to is Matt Dillahunty, who has a lot to say about this subject and who has addressed it more than once.  His thoughts on the matter are sensible.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Traveler on October 16, 2012, 09:33:44 AM
I grew up in Maryland, spent 25 years in New England, five traveling the country, and am now back in Maryland. Massachusetts and New Hampshire are both very, very tolerant. I never had to hide my atheism. In my engineering group we had openly gay, lesbian and transexuals. No one blinked an eye. There was never any overt prayer. Of course there were religious nuts too, but they didn't hold sway over the place. Maryland is a mixture. Southern, bible belt, and certain midwestern states I've felt like an alien. California is very liberal and tolerant. Portland, OR too. The area outside Spokane, WA, where I spent two years, was an odd mixture of christian, don't-care, native american-ish, and pagan.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 16, 2012, 09:35:02 AM
Wow..and Thank You everybody for your honest and thoughtful replies. I knew that moving here was going to pose some issues for me being as open as I am about my atheism but didn't think that it would trickle down to my daughter.

I already changed my profile on fb...deleting my religious views, taking off my favorite Hitchens and Harris quotes and getting rid of any old post where I had heated debates with some of my Christian friend. I suppose I thought that might just be enough somehow.

Within days of being here I was approached numerous times by people in my apartment complex as to which church I might be attending, fortunately I just smiled and stated that I would be looking for the nearest Methodist church asap. That seemed to appease the curious.

As to the issue with my daughter we have spoken at length regarding how she would like to handle the situation and she expressed that she is indeed afraid of how people will perceive her. She does request that I keep my lack of religious convictions to myself especially with her new softball team. I will say that this makes me so incredibly sad as she is very open minded regarding the many social issues we now face living in America.

Arming myself never really occurred to me, hell most days I forget to lock my doors! I suppose I will have to reevaluate how I view our safety. I am not afraid for myself but I suppose I should be for her.

Its quite the culture shock for me to have to be so silent regarding my views especially when my daughter comes home from school stating she learned about Noah's Ark in Social Studies. WTF? Really?! When the teacher asked who believed the Bible was the word of God she was stunned that everybody raised their hand...

I so appreciate the time everyone took to reply to me. I'm so glad I finally posted after lurking for so long.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: naemhni on October 16, 2012, 09:38:59 AM
Its quite the culture shock for me to have to be so silent regarding my views especially when my daughter comes home from school stating she learned about Noah's Ark in Social Studies. WTF? Really?! When the teacher asked who believed the Bible was the word of God she was stunned that everybody raised their hand...

You should probably talk to the Freedom From Religion Foundation about this if it's happening in a public school.  Long-standing precedent indicates that this kind of thing is unconstitutional.  The FFRF is very active in watchdogging church/state violations like this one, and they almost always win.  It may be possible for them to pursue this matter without disclosing your identity; they are sometimes able to do that.  And if they're not, they'll certainly give you the option of backing out of the complaint if you wish to.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 16, 2012, 09:48:29 AM
Thanks pianodwarf, I will keep that in mind if it appears that she is being force fed that garbage regularly. I will say that I was appalled and did spend some time beating myself up for the decision to move here but that serves no purpose, so forward I go into the unknown!
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Nam on October 16, 2012, 10:33:53 AM
The "South" has a much higher percentage of adherents to religion, especially evangelicals.

You have part of this right. Now, I wonder which part one would think that is?

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They exercise their religion at every opportunity.

Evidence? Movies and TV, and fundamentalists do not count as evidence. If it did then I could point to a bevy of movies, tv shows, and fundamentalists who do not live in the South as evidence that they are as rampant everywhere else not in the south.

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While I can put up with a prayer here and there, I cannot put up with mixing religion into the laws of the land. The "South" is apt to do exactly that. This is why it would take something much greater for me to move "south".

Evidence that those not from the south isn't doing the same thing?

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You do have support. There will be atheists around you, but they dare not speak their lack of belief.

Only the cowards.

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Imagine you are a homosexual in 1955 -- you will have to carefully feel under the table to determine if you have found someone like yourself. A careful glance or wink at an opportune moment is what it will take to reveal others like you who are otherwise putting up appearances in order to survive.

Biggest bullshit I've read in a long time. How did us atheist southerners ever survive?!?!

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As Poseidon said, a Unitarian Universalist church is a good option. I have considered going to one. My local UU has an entire evening devoted to doubters and skeptics (which is redundant as it seems most Unitarians are). Apparently they discuss things like logic, morality and spirituality. In fact, they would appear to be a very nice shield for you and your daughter to carry whenever things begin to veer into Christianity. To identify yourself publicly as an atheist can make you a target of ridicule or vandalism. To identify as Unitarian would likely confuse them -- they probably have little idea what it is.

Well, apparently they do since it's obviously 1955 and one can compare them to gay people.

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Whenever there is a call for a religious rally in Washington DC, of any kind, we can count on several hundred church buses from North Carolina and South Carolina (NC is bigger). An anti-abortion rally in DC can cause NC population to drop by 200,000. They don't just drive their buses in and drop-off their membership, no, those buses enter DC while rocking back-and-forth to the members singing and moving, chanting, etc. These people mean business.

And who makes up the rest of the crowd of, I assume, 100's of thousand/million or so?

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So, yeah Nam, the "South" is a lot more religious and doesn't much put up well with people who aren't.

Evidence?

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Maybe your part of the "South" is better or maybe you are just accustomed to it. If you were to live in the "North", you would immediately see and feel the difference. When it comes to sporting events in the "South", I fully expect "Contact Christianity" to be part of the game.

I would never live in a place I am not comfortable in. Nor, if I had children, let them live there. If the south is so much like 1955, as you say, then you'd actually be telling her to catch the bus back out of town[1]

-Nam
 1. yes, I know it was about homosexuality but what was New England like toward homosexuals in 1955, I wonder?
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: screwtape on October 16, 2012, 10:52:00 AM
...my daughter comes home from school stating she learned about Noah's Ark in Social Studies. WTF? Really?! When the teacher asked who believed the Bible was the word of God she was stunned that everybody raised their hand...

^that right there is some bullshit and it is completely illegal.  definitely find that lawyer right after you up-armor yourself.

Did I mention I fucking hate the south?
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 16, 2012, 11:00:06 AM
Yeah screwtape you did! I suppose I should have posted before I moved not after.  &)

Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Nam on October 16, 2012, 11:28:41 AM
The Bible belt defies your point.

No, it doesn't. It's just a term some midwesterner coined about 100 years ago. It doesn't just encompass the south but part of New England (the edge) and parts of the midwest, one could say (the Dakotas). The west has a heavy Mormon population, and the North East a heavy Catholic population. If I moved to either one, I'd feel that Catholicism or Mormonism was the bevy of things in those areas. As if I didn't feel the pressures that those religions would have on me. It's the same thing.

Yes, religion is taken seriously in the south but how many atheists have died because of it? Comparing atheism to that of homosexuality (as Chronos did) in the 50's is ridiculous. Homosexuals can actually die based on being a homosexual (anywhere). How many atheists, in the south, recently, have died because they are atheists? Or, in the last 50 years? (Not speaking about Communism)

So, Chronos using homosexuality as a metaphor or analogy, whatever, was not right. I know, it's the "hush-hush" effect, right? Please...

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No one ever said that there is no prejudice elsewhere.

No but the implication is that it's more rampant in the south than anywhere else in the US. If that were true, I wonder how Obama picked up 3 southern states in 2008? It wasn't just the black vote.

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But whatever you have imagined you might feel if you moved to New England, it would certainly not be anything like getting a large dose of southern "religious" hospitality for someone who has never lived here.

I think i'd get a heavy dose of Catholicism. Is that better?

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This is a distinct issue that certainly does have a geographic aspect to its veracity.

I've been in Texas for close to 40 years, and I moved to Connecticut for about a year back in 2000.  So I got to experience New England, and I would have loved to find a way to stay there.  The higher cost of living is offset by the more diverse attitudes towards religions, IMO.

When it comes to religious politicians in the news, I find there are more non-Southerners than there are southerners viewed. That could be an offset...

-Nam
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Chronos on October 16, 2012, 07:32:08 PM
...my daughter comes home from school stating she learned about Noah's Ark in Social Studies. WTF? Really?! When the teacher asked who believed the Bible was the word of God she was stunned that everybody raised their hand...

^that right there is some bullshit and it is completely illegal.  definitely find that lawyer right after you up-armor yourself.

If you adorned your car with a rebel flag and a NRA sticker, plus some other gun sticker ... you probably can avoid a lot of other questions ...



Did I mention I fucking hate the south?

It's a great place to visit. When you are a tourist they don't care what religion your money is.

Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Chronos on October 16, 2012, 09:06:52 PM
Maryland is a mixture.

Yes, it is.

I have a lot of clients who are clergy, which is all happenstance. I did not go looking for them. I have quite a few black baptist ministers, most of which are in Baltimore, and some suburban baptist ministers who are obviously more progressive and liberal than the black urban ministers. I also have some Catholic clergy, but that goes without saying considering that Maryland is, essentially, a Catholic state.

When asked by the black urban ministers if I attend church, I tell them no. They don't usually ask any further questions and I don't offer any further explanations. I have a Korean Christian minister try to get me to attend her church, but I don't speak Korean and that's all they speak at her church, obviously. I have had a particular client, a Jehovah's Witness, who tried to convert my office until my receptionist told her that everyone in the office is an atheist.

Over the phone, I often get a salutation of God Bless, Have a Blessed Day, etc., and I just say in kind "and to you."

Of course, I have a lot of Jewish clients, too. They push nothing.

Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Mr. Blackwell on October 16, 2012, 10:25:59 PM
I had no idea it was that bad in the south. I've lived here my whole life...exept for about 8 months up in Massachusetts.

I'm kinda of scared now, should I think about moving?
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Schizoid on October 16, 2012, 10:53:44 PM
Discretion is the better part of valor.

I am an atheist, but a fairly covert one since I actually work for a religious homeless shelter.  In a much younger life I was a practicing Christian and a knowledgeable one so I know the Bible and can talk the lingo.  I often have to hold my tongue when I might not like to, but it is ultimately for the best and I respect most of the people with whom I work.

I have a 21 year old goddaughter who is like a daughter to me.  I am her representative payee for SSI and she lives a couple of blocks from me.  She has problems and I am really the only one she has here to help her through them who is close to her and who she loves and respects.  She really has no friends, has trouble making friends, and usually ends up attracting total losers who hurt her and her life.  She knows I am an atheist and we have talked about it and she agrees with much, but she still is young and finding her way.  I told her that a good place for her to go to meet people her age who were not getting into trouble and would not lead her into trouble would be a church.  I told her she could go for the social aspects and not have to embrace the religious ones.  It is more important now for her to get friends and get on the right path (not in a religious sense).

So I called what I knew to be a large church with lots of young people, with a "come as you are" philosophy.  I talked with the receptionist to get an idea of whom to talk with that would be the best for finding a direction to go.  I explained about my goddaughter and her problems and her needs.  The woman then asked about me and where I went.  I was honest and told her I was an atheist, because after all, this was about my goddaughter and the help she needed, not me.  She told me about a youth pastor but said he was in a meeting.  She took my name and phone number and said he would call me.

I actually expected to hear from him later that day, or the next day.  A week later he still had not called.  I mentioned this to others, including a coworker who is a devout Christian but goes to a tiny church in another town (he knows I'm an atheist yet finds it all fascinating).  It was their conclusion that I did not hear back from the pastor because I had told the receptionist that I was an atheist.  Apparently it did not matter that is was my goddaughter who needed help.  What I learned was that it would have been better if I had just kept my mouth shut about being an atheist.

In conclusion I would like to tell about when I was stopped by a State Trooper who was lurking a the bottom of a hill on a state highway to catch speeders.  It had been my experience that when you are stopped by a State Trooper to save your breath, you've got a ticket.

The Trooper asked me, "Did you know you were speeding?"  My answer was, "No, because my speedometer was broken".  He said, "Nooooo, you shouldn't have told me that because it's another citation".

He then left for that long wait you have before you know the cop is going to come back and give you a ticket.  When the State Trooper came back he said to me, "You know, I always tell my kids that they can know the truth, but they don't have to tell all of it".  He then gave me a warning ticket and all these years later I am still amazed.  (I did fail to tell him that my speedometer had been broken for many months).

So you can know the whole truth, but you don't have to tell all of it.  I am not an evangelistic atheist and I have learned and am still learning that sometimes it's better to be discrete about it and keep my thoughts and opinions to myself especially when it is not helpful or when someone else (like my goddaughter) suffers the consequences of my choices.

Life is not fair, such is life.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 17, 2012, 08:51:12 AM
Thanks for the post Schizoid..I hope your Goddaughter is doing better.

I am sincerely sorry if my post offended anyone, that was not my intent.  :-X
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Kimberly on October 17, 2012, 09:49:43 AM
I live in the south, Tennessee to be exact. I've been an atheist for a little over 5 years give or take some time being agnostic. I've lived here nearly my entire life. I honestly thought all atheist were the antichrist[1]. So when I deconverted I felt others would see me in a similar light. I couldn't tell anyone my deep dark secret, for all the reasons listed in this thread. The only other atheists I knew IRL were my brother and my significant other.

Well my significant other decides he wants to come out of the atheist closet. (At this time I was still agnostic.) The first people to turn ugly were his family and family friends. But they didn't turn on him, no they turned on me. Some how him deconverting had to be my fault. We had just started dating so it was obviously me who took him away from god! I was a little taken aback by this. Nevertheless he continue spreading his newly found lack of religion. His family and friends backed off me after he told them all he deconverted in the army before ever meeting me.

The cool thing about it was the more people he told the more atheist he met. I honestly had no idea there were so many non believers in this area. I guess I like to think I'm special, ahead of the curve, or whatever but truth be told there are more atheist around the south than any of us probably imagine. I found out my best friend was an agnostic on accident. She never revealed it to me, probably for the reasons I never revealed it to her.

I'm starting to realize that most people are just scared. They are just as afraid of discussing atheism in the south as I am. But it's not gonna get better if we are afraid of the bigotry. They aren't going to practice their own tolerance if we let them alienate and isolate us. I watched a Richard Dawkins video on Ted and it really got me thinking. I think what the south needs is more people actively opening their "closet doors". I'm sure there are extreme cases where someone might burn a cross in your lawn but I doubt it's as likely as some of us would have us all to believe.

I think we should all be careful of creating hyperbole. No one can tell another what to do in regards to how open they are about their atheism. IMO there is a time and a place. We should all be rational enough to detect the high risk times and avoid them. But I don't think we should tell each other to run and hide as if the Christian mobs are going to come around eating our babies. That's our job.
 1. An exaggeration but more or less accurate.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 17, 2012, 10:31:15 AM
Kimberly, I do believe that you are right when you say the more people you tell the more atheist you meet. At least that was true when I lived in N.Y. Don't get me wrong my views were not always well received and I did lose some friends over my heathen view points. I do also agree that isolation is not the remedy, in fact it may just perpetuate the discrimination. I am torn between my deep conviction and my daughters well being. Fortunately she is rapidly approaching an age where my views on this matter should not play a huge role in her life. Until that time I will try to be respectful of her wishes. I am hopeful that soon I will be able to live my life once again as an open atheist. I hate the closet!
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Nam on October 17, 2012, 10:40:05 AM
Schizoid,

It sounds like the receptionist was being a dick, and I doubt she even called the pastor, who would've been happy not only to help your goddaughter but also help her and you "see the light".

-Nam
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Kimberly on October 17, 2012, 11:48:17 AM
madeline,

I can understand your concerns. My oldest daughter is 8. I had a similar problem with our school it was either Kindergarten or first grade, I forget. But long story short the teacher was not presenting a secular friendly Christmas lesson plan. I was really upset about it so I emailed the teacher, the principal, and the superintendent a modified lesson plan I created for her (along with my thorough complaint of course.). I was literally terrified of the response I thought I was going to get.   I was terrified my daughter would ostracized. I was afraid the PTA would contact me and preach at me. Or that I'd get all emotional and have to call the ACLU over this teacher refusing to modify her lesson plan. I honestly had no idea what to expect but I feared the worse. Any ways, my point is, I was worried about the education my daughter was receiving so my fears could not prevent me from taking action.

You know what happened? The teacher wrote me an apology. She explained that this was her first year teaching and she wasn't aware of the flaws in her lesson plan. She embarrassed the recommendations I made and created her own new lesson plan. It was wonderful. The irony of it all is the kids never got to see either lesson plans. School was called off due to snow so it was a big to do about nothing. But the teacher learned a lesson about how to create a secular lesson plan. And I learned that my child's education means more to me that my perceived fears.

I suspect this experience is the norm and those you hear on the news are the exception.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: naemhni on October 17, 2012, 11:55:26 AM
I suspect this experience is the norm and those you hear on the news are the exception.

I don't know for sure whether it's the norm or not, but it's definitely common.  I'm a member of the FFRF, and one section of "Freethought Today" discusses the outcome of various complaint letters that they send to various people who are violating the First Amendment in ways like this.  Very often, the response is something like, "That didn't even occur to me... you're right.  I'll change it."  Just goes to show how widespread Christian privilege is in this country.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Kimberly on October 17, 2012, 12:03:42 PM
That's good to know PD. Thanks for sharing.

This particular teacher didn't know much about any religion, including her own. You would think they would have to attend some kinda seminar or class on secularism before they are allowed to create a lesson plan centered around theology. Oh well, maybe in due time.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Nam on October 17, 2012, 12:17:23 PM
pianodwarf,

This country is primarily Christian. I think for most Christians it's not even a second thought to them that the vast majority of people around them aren't Christian like them. So, when a teacher, who's a Christian, makes out such plans, especially in a highly populated area of Christians, they may not think that everyone in their class is not a Christian. Where I grew up, and went toschool, it was like that. The only exceptions usually made were for foreigners. The way it was. Probably still is. Not saying it's right; I just don't think the average Christian thinks about these things.

-Nam
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: naemhni on October 17, 2012, 12:34:06 PM
pianodwarf,

This country is primarily Christian. I think for most Christians it's not even a second thought to them that the vast majority of people around them aren't Christian like them. So, when a teacher, who's a Christian, makes out such plans, especially in a highly populated area of Christians, they may not think that everyone in their class is not a Christian. Where I grew up, and went toschool, it was like that. The only exceptions usually made were for foreigners. The way it was. Probably still is. Not saying it's right; I just don't think the average Christian thinks about these things.

-Nam

Right, that's what I said: Christian privilege.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Nam on October 17, 2012, 12:51:26 PM
pianodwarf,

You're making it sound as if that's what they see it as. I think that's what you see it as; and of course the fundamentalists, and politicians.

-Nam
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 17, 2012, 12:58:18 PM
Kimberly...I am impressed that you received the feedback from the teacher like you did. That's a great sign of progress for the secular fraction for sure!
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: naemhni on October 17, 2012, 01:43:40 PM
You're making it sound as if that's what they see it as.

No, they don't.  In fact, one of the characteristics of the privilege, whether it's Christian privilege, male privilege, white privilege, or whatever, is that the people who have the privilege usually don't know that they have it, as was the case with this teacher.  Simply becoming aware of the privilege often eliminates it.

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I think that's what you see it as

Yes, because that's what it is.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Mr. Blackwell on October 17, 2012, 06:45:17 PM
Thanks for the post Schizoid..I hope your Goddaughter is doing better.

I am sincerely sorry if my post offended anyone, that was not my intent.  :-X

Well for my part, I am not offended. So no apology needed. The south is just like any other part of America. There are places where you won't be welcomed. There are places where you will. I will say that I haven't heard of anyone being mugged beaten shot or otherwise killed because they don't believe in God. The worst I've seen is that you might get ignored or receive mean looks.

Your daughter shouldn't have any serious troubles from kids her age. I dare say that just as many kids would be fascinated by her as repulsed...and for a variety of different reasons.

A gun probably isn't necessary but it's still a good idea to have one...there is a pretty serious drug problem down here. Desperate times, desperate people yadda yadda yadda.

Ultimately it all depends on exactly where in North Carolina you live as to exactly how concerned you should be. Call your local police department and ask for crime rates for your area. That should give you some indication of how safe you are.

From my personal experience having lived in the south my whole life, most people round here don't give a fuck what you do with your life...just so long as you don't go broadcasting it to everyone you meet.

I've never experienced any issues from people inviting me to church after telling them I don't have much interest in going to church and just left it at that. Hell, you could just as easily tell them that you feel no desire to go to a specific building to worship God when he is everywhere. I realize it's all more complicated than this but I honestly don't think it's as dangerous or life threatening as you might think or others have implied.

For example, the company I work for now is a small family owned operation. They are pretty religious but not many of their employees are.

We have a right wing conservative womanizing bigot, two or three gay people...not sure about one of them. A couple of rednecks, couple of hicks, couple people like me and a few quasi religious people who don't push their religion on the rest of us.
Everybody seems to get along with everybody, except for the womanizing bigot, he is merely tolerated.

Our customers also run the gamut. From church flyer's to satanic CD album covers to medical research power point presentations and coupons for commercial business.

And I live in the buckle of the Bible belt.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Chronos on October 17, 2012, 08:11:35 PM
The cool thing about it was the more people he told the more atheist he met. I honestly had no idea there were so many non believers in this area ...

I'm starting to realize that most people are just scared. They are just as afraid of discussing atheism in the south as I am. But it's not gonna get better if we are afraid of the bigotry ...

I agree. The problem is that you have to have a critical mass of people who stand up at once and say enough is enough. Too many people who think like us also think that the other side might be right -- when 2 billion people think the same way, you sometimes wonder how all of them can be so wrong.


But I don't think we should tell each other to run and hide as if the Christian mobs are going to come around eating our babies. That's our job.

That depends on who is surrounding you. Athletics tends to attract conservative people, or maybe just the more vocal ones. Religion is the same. Mix the two together and it can be toxic.



Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Mr. Blackwell on October 17, 2012, 08:57:42 PM
Athletics tends to attract conservative people, or maybe just the more vocal ones. Religion is the same. Mix the two together and it can be toxic.

How dare you disenfranchise the voices of all the liberal Christians and Catholics who continue to provide sanctuary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanctuary_movement) for illegal immigrants.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Schizoid on October 17, 2012, 11:11:08 PM
Thanks for the post Schizoid..I hope your Goddaughter is doing better.

I am sincerely sorry if my post offended anyone, that was not my intent.  :-X

Thanks.  She seems to be doing better, making friends at her AA/NA meetings, but nothing from the church visit.  I went to that church many years ago when it was meeting in high school auditoriums.  Now it is huge with hundreds and hundreds of members and a weekly budget need of $33,000 and the week before they collected $70,000.

We went and saw lots of friendly and happy people among themselves and those they knew.  In the more than hour and a half that we were there nobody approached my goddaughter (a tall and attractive young lady) and introduced themselves or said "hi" or "welcome to our church" or recognized her as new and maybe invited her out for coffee afterwards.  Nobody really spoke to us at all.  It was a good service and the pastor (dressed in jeans and a nice pullover shirt) was an interesting speaker and made good points within the context of what I know he believed.

I have learned to keep my atheism to myself (especially since I work for a Christian homeless shelter, and freely took the job knowing that I would need to hold my tongue--they do well with the homeless and there is no preaching or religious pressure).   I'll say this, I've never been called "sir" so many times in all my life by not only members of the staff but by many of the homeless as well.

Ironically the one person with whom I can freely share about my beliefs at work is my coworker and direct supervisor who is a devout Christian.  He finds me fascinating because I know the Bible and can talk with him concerning it and I challenge his beliefs in a friendly way and I think he finds that stimulating because we respect each other's beliefs (he can easily do this with me because he believes that since I was once a practicing Christian who had accepted Jesus as my savior then I was saved whether I liked it or not and there's nothing I can do about it--like I'd be dragged into heaven kicking and screaming).

One thing I am proud of, particularly coming from the standpoint of being an atheist compared to a religious person, is that my goddaughter has told me that I am the most moral person she has ever known and that she looks up to me and she knows that I am an atheist.  I kept my beliefs to myself with her for many years until she reached an age where I felt I could be completely honest with her and was not too surprised that she felt much the same way herself.
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 19, 2012, 07:10:51 AM
Thanks Mr. Blackwell...I do think that you are correct regarding my daughter and the amount of discrimination she might encounter. So far (we have only been here 2 months) she has found a softball team she loves and seems to have made quite a few new friends in school. The transition was not as difficult as I had imagined it would be for her.
The true test will be if I can just keep my opinions to myself!  ;D
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 19, 2012, 07:22:03 AM
Schizoid..I am glad your God daughter has made some new friends and hope that she find peace within herself. I will say that aa/na is a program that I have serious reservation with but if she can manage to see past the obvious religious bullshit and stay focused on one member supporting another she will do just fine. You appear to be a great source of strength for her, I do believe her assessment of you is spot on.

Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Gohavesomefun on October 19, 2012, 04:23:26 PM
Are things getting easier/better Madeline?
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: Kimberly on October 19, 2012, 04:36:42 PM
I will say that aa/na is a program that I have serious reservation with but if she can manage to see past the obvious religious bullshit and stay focused on one member supporting another she will do just fine.

More we agree about! Too bad you didn't move to TN!?! :D
Title: Re: Help..
Post by: madeline on October 20, 2012, 08:59:03 AM
Things are moving forward Gohavesomefun, as to easier/better that is still up in the air. I am relieved that the transition has been fairly smooth for my daughter but I seem to be questioning my decision as of late. Par for the course I assume. I am optimistic that this feeling will pass in due time. Thanks for asking!

Funny Kimberly I actually thought about TN!