Title page for ETD etd-12222009-140247

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Alidoosti, Babak
Author's Email Address balidoos@vt.edu
URN etd-12222009-140247
Title The Process and Experience of Deciding to Live Openly Atheist in a Christian Family: A Qualitative Study
Degree Master of Science
Department Human Development
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Huebner, Angela J. Committee Chair
Falconier, Mariana K. Committee Member
McCollum, Eric E. Committee Member
  • Atheism
  • coming out
  • religion
Date of Defense 2009-12-11
Availability unrestricted
Existing literature reveals that atheists are among the least accepted groups in America. This study examined the process atheists go through when disclosing their atheism to their religious family members. It is hoped that the information gained may benefit therapists who work with this population as they go through this potentially difficult time and adds to the currently insufficient body of research on atheism and atheists. Using the guided frameworks of grounded theory and social exchange and choice theory, a focus group was conducted with seven atheists and coded for themes. The data revealed the disclosure process as happening in three main stages which cover how the atheists arrived at the belief system, how it was disclosed and its reception, and how relationships have been impacted since the disclosure. The clinical implications of the findings and suggestions for future research are also discussed.
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