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Never-Ending Dizzy Spell

By Meg ~

Well, after countless hours and different times trying to find information, I have finally decided to post the question and hopefully get some decent insight into it...

Throughout my childhood I never really believed in such characters as God and Jesus. Yea, I was told some interesting stories, but that was all they were to me, a work of fiction from a book. Once my family moved to South Carolina, the religion was still here, but I wasn't forced to attend churches like I was before moving, so it's been 11 years since I've been to one.

After moving my little to no beliefs stayed that way while everyone around me suddenly jumped the Jeebusmobile, even my mother started attending church again with my sister in which they'll ask if I want to go and I'll just decline and they go on their merry way. Yes the majority of my family is Baptist/Christian/whatever else they believe with a supposed higher power, and it does get annoying when that's all they'll talk about (especially on facebook).

Anyways, here's my dilemma.....with the exception of a couple of friends, the majority of people I hang out with on a regular basis is vvvvvveeeeeeerrrrrrryyyyyy Christian. Don't get me wrong, they're cool people and with the exception of religion we have a lot in common. My 3 best friends know I'm Atheist and respect my lack of belief somewhat. 1, who I'll call S just doesn't bring up religion and I'm very thankful S doesn't and we are as close as ever best friend wise. The other two don't intentionally bring up their beliefs, but it does slip, especially with one of them. One of them, who will be called C doesn't do it on purpose, but when I'm with her and her family is over it gets very religious with the praising, praying, etc's not her fault, she can't control what her family does, and I'll just go with it to show respect, but it does get very uncomfortable for me. With my other friend, who will be called T, he knows that I'm Atheist, but he seems to always bring up his church, his beliefs, people he hangs with at said church......I've asked him nicely to switch the subject and I'll try to switch it myself, but it somehow always goes back to that, even though he knows I'm not interested at all.

I have one more friend to speak of, who shall be called L. She lives 4 hours away and I'll visit her as much as possible or she'll visit me and another friend of ours when she can as well. When I was visiting her we were going out for dinner and just picked up an old friend of hers, new friend for me :), and was on our way. I'm not quite sure how, I was focused on the outside scenery, but the topic of religion was brought up and her old friend was Atheist but converted to Christianity, and L is also christian, so I just let them discuss and when the topic changes I'll talk then. The only thing was L said this sentence to her friend and it sort of struck as an insult to me, which was " long as you don't become Atheist...".

Finally, my question is: How can I possibly....I guess, counter this??? I mean, how can I speak to my family and friends who don't know I'm Atheist yet and let them know they're insulting me, while trying to also let them know I still respect what they believe in and just to leave me out of their praying, church going, etc etc whatever else people do for their religion?? Again, I've only told a very select few that I'm Atheist because, well I'm living in bible belt central. My mother and father don't know, my sister, despite only being 12, knows I don't believe in what she believes in, she just doesn't have a proper word for it yet and I'm not about to tell her since she DOES have a big mouth, and besides S,C, and T, none of my other friends knows that I'm not religious, including L...