Apostasy is leaving one's religion. A former believer can leave and convert to another religion, or can leave to become an atheist, agnostic, or freethinker.

  1. Adherents of the former religion tend to see apostasy as betrayal, and in several islamic states (namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Mauritania) apostasy is punishable by death.
  2. The new religious group or freethought group that the person has joined tends to see conversion or deconversion as a positive experience. The new group tends to welcome a new member.

Minors and young adults from Christian families who become atheists[]

Should you tell your parents?

  1. If you're under 16 you should almost certainly wait until you're older. Don't face the firestorm that may follow until you're able to handle it. Please read How stereotyping atheists as immoral can do harm, my experience to see what can happen.
  2. If you're over 18-19 from a Liberal Christian family, then you probably should get your beliefs into the open and tell your family that you no longer believe in a god. Liberal Christians typically accept the beliefs of an atheist son or daughter once they get over the initial shock of finding out. The family relationship is usually better with everything open. Still only you know your own family and you must make the decision yourself.
  3. In the most intolerant Christian Fundamentalist families, telling your family at any age will cause serious trouble, and may even result in parents disowning their children. If you fear that your family might react like that, then you should certainly wait at least until you're financially independent before you tell your family anything. Only a minority of families are so intolerant that their children can never tell them when they stop being Christians.

At any age, once you've told your family that you stopped believing in a god, you can't easily go back to the way things were before.

  1. It is always good to gauge the families' opinions on atheism before telling them. For example, ask them about their opinion of atheists, etc.

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