Dear Carolyn: Most of my family members belong to the religion I was raised in, which I have come to view as wrong not just theologically but morally. The religion teaches prejudice and hatred.

I am increasingly wondering whether I can, in good conscience, continue to have a loving relationship with these people. To me, the religion's teachings are so wrong, so harmful, that acting friendly around them as long as religion doesn't come up would be like having a friend who's a member of a neo-Nazi organization and just turning a blind eye to it.

Do you think that, for my own morality, I need to sever ties with my family?

— Religious Differences

Religious Differences: IF you believe this religion’s teachings are as morally reprehensible as neo-Nazism — if — then, yes, you need to treat your family members who embrace these teachings as if they were neo-Nazis.

If there’s a moral difference between the two belief systems, then your moral obligation changes as well.

Ultimately only you can determine this.

You also, of course, get to choose which values you prioritize:

Does family take precedence over the morality of individual beliefs, or does the morality trump all?

Do your priorities change whether these beliefs are or aren’t acted upon, or is the belief enough regardless? Does choosing the religion mean choosing its every belief, or are adherents responsible only for the tenets they embrace?

Or does usefulness toward the collective good displace both family and morality altogether, if there’s some chance remaining connected will give you more power over your family’s immorality than you would have if you chose to isolate yourself from them?

It’s a lot. Being torn is almost a given.

And you certainly will find a lot of people in anguish over similar conflicts, if you look, and not even very hard.

It’s also your prerogative to decide, always, that you don’t like the effect certain people have on you and that you don’t want to associate with them anymore for that reason alone. It doesn’t have to be any more cerebral or ethical than that.

Re: Abhorrent views: It's worth considering what influence you can have. I come from a devout family that holds some religious views I find noxious. Over decades of discussion, I have consistently challenged those views. In that time, some family members have entirely rejected the theology in question and others are still believers but are much less hairline about these issues.

I'm White, straight and cis, so it's not painful or dangerous for me to push against their religious prejudices. And it's honestly up to those of us in a position to do so to push back against attitudes and beliefs that harm the vulnerable.

That being said, I like and love my family members, even when I think they're very seriously wrong about some things. Someone who is dealing with awful family might make the perfectly reasonable decision to take a break rather than continue to associate with them.

And you gotta draw a line somewhere — I agree that neo-Nazis are beyond the pale.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: A very fine place to draw a line, thanks.

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