Quite a few compare belief in God to belief in Santa, belief in the flying spaghetti monster, belief in unicorns, Zeus, you name it. Trauma is created through rejection from community, rejection from family, judgement from a community. (I know, I've been rejected, had to find my new "tribe"). I don't want to lose my family over this though, want to be one of those people who is able to talk with anyone regardless of their beliefs - religious/political/cultural - I want everyone to feel comfortable around me. Even though I am now an atheist, I still talk with my very devout parents, in-laws, and all family members. Communicating with a believer means finding something in common - their defenses will go up with god, but they will talk about santa:
Santa & God
Jesus and St Nick - both historical figures that probably really did exist
children taught to believe in both at a young age
both are supposed to be loving, caring people - who reward "good" acts
rituals for both, write a letter to santa/pray to god
miracles - flying sled, false promises of giving presents to everyone
songs, stories, holidays around both of them
warm fuzzies / excitement / magical to believe in each - a source of hope
Is it a choice to believe/not believe in sSanta? to believe/not believe in god? to believe/not believe in unicorns?
Increased understanding through talking things out - I don't need my parents to change their beliefs, just to be considerate of my LGBTQ kiddo, and understanding when we do not attend church etc. For them to be understanding, to decrease my own isolation means using parables - like talking about santa. If they can understand it's not a "choice" for me, I have not "fallen into sin", if they can stop judging and see a new side to it, my own pain will be less. For religious trauma, unfortunately, the victim has to be stronger than the persecutors - believers, it is a mental illness. I will fight against shunning, against ex-communication, against turned backs by talking concepts through in simple terms - like santa. It is what has worked for me.
I understand everyone isn't going to make an effort to reach out to family, to include everyone of different beliefs. It just feels like - I would be a hypocrite - hypocritical to know the pain of being shunned and misjudged, and turn around and do the same to them. I will not shun anyone, will try to communicate at a level we agree on (we agree on santa) and minimize judging by communicating my beliefs - about things like LGBTQ - as they communicate theirs. We are social creatures, need family, need community. For me, it is worth the effort to connect with those who unknowingly traumatize others.
Communication is working.
Rise of the nones - people are leaving Christianity at unprecedented numbers, leaving all the fundamentalist craziness.
Love, kindness, communication (rather than shunning, avoiding, silence) - this is what will create a better new world.
Lost god, find your own inner strength, then be the light you needed in the world, and change the world one person at a time. Life is given purpose and meaning through helping others, leaving a better world for the next generation and all that. Yes, atheists have lives filled with Meaning and Purpose too