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Atheist Father with Jewish son
#1
Hi, I’m Beck, I’m 15
I’m looking for some advice and maybe some comfort. 
I am jewish but my father is an atheist who is very against religion, he is very bigoted and often rude to any people of faith. I am embarrassed for how he is but I’ve accepted that just because he is like that, that doesn’t mean I am. His words,thoughts, and actions aren’t mine. 


Anyways, 
I’m at a loss of what to do. I’m scared for how he would react if he knew I wasn’t an atheist. My city has a synagogue but it’s closed at the moment because of covid-19. I just want some comfort. I am tired of having to keep my religion from him and having to put up with all the hateful words he says both at home and in public. It’s embarrassing. 
I have no one to talk to about this, it’s something I’ve had to figure out completely on my own and I don’t know if I am doing something wrong etc.
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#2
Hello Beck and welcome to the forum.

Just to let you know, the first 3 posts are moderated to help keep out spam and bots.

Thanks for your introduction and for asking for advice. I understand it may be a very difficult situation you are in. Of course while you are living at home, you should abide by the rules of the house. And of course we should always show respect to our fathers and mothers (and everyone else too!).

So what can you do?

I would suggest that you continue to study what you believe, but you don't have to be very open about it. If your father asks, of course you should tell him the truth and hopefully he will be respectful as well.

But even if he isn't, try not to let him discourage you. When he observes your actions and deeds, maybe he'll see the good in you and not interfere with your journey.

May I ask how your mother feels about this?

We are here to help you as well!
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#3
In the end, you are the one who must self-identify. No one can tell you what you should or should not believe.

I have to say that I don't think your father would be angry with you for thinking for yourself. Atheism is more often than not the result of self-determined thinking. If he's a humanist and a rational person, he will appreciate that you're thinking through the issues on your own and probably try to give you resources that oppose what you're currently thinking (which isn't an insult).

I think children often see how their parents react to outsiders and then think that they will react toward them in the same way. It's not true. He may be harsh with people that he meets when discussing issues bordering on faith, but I'm sure that he appreciates the freedom to think for himself that allowed him to break from whatever faith tradition he was raised - and that appreciation will allow him to work through it with you.

If he has any problem with it, tell him to call the Atheist Experience from the Atheist Community of Austen. They will, from an atheist point of view, talk to him about the importance of letting people make up their own minds - and that trying to force someone to agree with you (either by bullying them with your words or by using compulsion of other kinds) is well outside of the values of Atheism.

Good luck!
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#4
Hi Beck and welcome to the forum! It seems like there are two underlying problems - your father being so vocal about his atheism on one hand and your personal belief being affected by his actions on the other. Have you tried addressing your discomfort about the way he interacts with people of (other) faiths?
Are you generally able to discuss personal matters with him?

The others already wrote some great suggestions.
I just wanted to add that even though your synagogues are closed locally, that doesn't mean the community is not available at all. You might find some contact details on their website and could get in touch with your local Rabbi or a youth-group which might help you in your wish to engage.

I know how hurtful being mocked for your beliefs can feel at times. But I noticed that while it feels like being rejected on a personal level due to being ridiculed for something that is so deeply important, even a part of you, the other part will not see it the same way. For them it can be as impersonal as mocking the color of your sneakers. This does not make it ok and it is still necessary to find more healthy ways of discussing matters (or agreeing simply not to), but it can help in feeling less rejected on a personal level.

For example, whenever I tell about having had a nice experience that relates to Judaism, my aunt is guaranteed to bring up how "she is capable of thinking for herself", implying I joined the ranks of those who can't. It is hurtful not because she insults my mental capacity, but because she reacts with that statement whenever I just want to share something that brings me joy. My resolution was to simply not share this part of me with her anymore. It is a shame, because we want to share the things we experience with those we love, but ultimately this is our journey and if they can't keep it civil and keep on spoiling the experience, we will travel without them.
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#5
Beck:

(04-20-2020, 08:03 AM)a_Sarah wrote: I just wanted to add that even though your synagogues are closed locally, that doesn't mean the community is not available at all. You might find some contact details on their website and could get in touch with your local Rabbi or a youth-group which might help you in your wish to engage.

Indeed! I didn't think about that. I know that one of the former student rabbis from my congregation back home is now the pulpit rabbi at Temple of Israel in Wilmington, NC. Her name is Emily Losben, and she does services online for Shabbat and for other temple events. If you'd like, I can put you in touch with her.

(04-20-2020, 08:03 AM)a_Sarah wrote: For example, whenever I tell about having had a nice experience that relates to Judaism, my aunt is guaranteed to bring up how "she is capable of thinking for herself", implying I joined the ranks of those who can't. It is hurtful not because she insults my mental capacity, but because she reacts with that statement whenever I just want to share something that brings me joy. My resolution was to simply not share this part of me with her anymore. It is a shame, because we want to share the things we experience with those we love, but ultimately this is our journey and if they can't keep it civil and keep on spoiling the experience, we will travel without them.

No matter which group you join (even atheistic / humanistic groups), there will be someone that you look up to and whose opinions you value. "No man is an island," and there are those who have more experience within whatever group it is that we belong to. So, it shouldn't surprise us that atheists will listen to atheist teachers, Jews will listen to Jewish teachers, Christians will listen to Christian teachers, etc. No one should act like the high-and-mighty I have my own opinions, which are the result of a completely open mind with perfect reasoning faculties. We all listen to other people's opinions, and no one has it all figured out on his own.

No need to be judgmental because people on a different path to ourselves. Know what I mean? (But, I still hate the missionary mindset!)
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#6
Ah, of course, remaining open towards others is so important! Yes, I agree with that observation. But on the other hand, positive counter examples exist and I suspect they are so much more in number than those who are anti, those are just louder.

This is one of the reasons I enjoy Judaism so much - the in-built call to respect others and being relaxed towards other faiths if there is the common denominator of simply being a good human being


 And even if someone feels more "evolved" or rational, even that will be a process that has been influenced by the entanglement of many philosophies and world views before, like you wrote - I mean, atheism itself wouldn't exist without religion either. Not only in the obvious sense but due to the evolution of ideas, philosophies and schools of thought.
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