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Mum won't let me change religion

I was brought up a muslim like everyone else in my family. My family are from a muslim country and every single member of my family is one. I didn't really question anything but as I grew older I learnt to think for myself and I've realised I don't believe anything muslims believe in. I consider myself an atheist. I don't tell anyone that I was ever a muslim and I don't tell anyone in my family that I'm an atheist because I know for a fact they won't let me convert. Many people say freedom of religion is a human right but my family definitely don't believe in that. I've got really bushy eyebrows and I'm kinda self conscious about them but I'm not allowed to trim them. I'm not allowed a girlfriend. I don't really mind though about that one cause I won't tell my parents. I really don't want to tell my family. I don't pray or anything because I see that as disrespectful, pretending to pray because I don't know how and I'm not a muslim. I really need some advice. I don't want to be a muslim.

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Sam

Hi there,

Exploring what you do and don’t believe in is part of discovering who you are and what's important to you. People close to you will often want you to have the same opinions and views as them. But it's okay to be true to yourself in what matters to you.

Everyone has the right to choose their own religion and you have the right to identify yourself as atheist. You get to decide what’s right and wrong and it’s important you feel like you're living true to the way you feel inside.

When your family have a different faith to you it can be really helpful for you to try to understand more about their perspective too. The religion they choose often becomes part of who they see themselves as and gives them values and rituals to follow. It may also help them feel connected with wider family and a community.

Your family don't have the right to pressure you or anyone else to practise that religion with them. Understanding their religion also doesn’t mean you have to agree with or like what it says.

It is absolutely okay to choose to not share your beliefs with anyone you decide not to. Sometimes this can be the best option for a while – especially if you feel like it might make things more difficult at home. Remember though, when it's difficult to openly express yourself, it can help to get support from other trusted adults too. You don’t have to keep it to yourself all of the time.

While still living at home, you'll need to follow any reasonable rules of the family household. But that should never stop you from being who you are and finding ways to express yourself and your own values.

You can talk to other young people about faith on our message boards. And remember, you can always get support from one of our counsellors.

Thanks for sending me this letter, take care.

Sam

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