I have a big problem and I would like some suggestions from people with more experience.
I have a niece. She turns 4 next month. I would like to know how to deal with her and how to let her know that all she is taught about god and religion is not true, but in a more subtle way, because I don't want to seem like I'm imposing anything. This wouldn't be a problem if I wouldn't be the only atheist in her life, but I am, and everybody else either doesn't really care about her and/or is not that pious but not actually an atheist, or is a religious nut. I kept quiet until now because I don't want to do anything that would affect my relationship with her, and some of you have already found out the hard way what religious people are capable of, but she already sings out of the blue "hallelujah" (and I'm not talking about that great song), "god have mercy" and stuff like that, and she already believes that if she won't be good, if she won't kiss icons, if she doesn't cross herself (is this the correct saying?), etc. she will go to hell. I don't know if she knows what hell really is supposed to be, but that stuff is obviously already stuck in her mind. She is really chatty and what I tell her might slip out someday and that might not turn out good for either one of us - I don't really care about myself in this situation, but it would be even harder for me to guide her at least as best as I can which is far better than what the rest of the people that should do it actually does... or doesn't. So, I would like to be able to do something about it because I really care about her, but, again, I don't want to be obvious.
Oh yeah, I have not told anyone that might be in contact with my niece as well that I don't believe that a god exists, even though some might have deduced that when I threw away all the religious stuff I had like 6 months ago, but, from that, they might as well think that I'm just mad with religion.
I don't think you can do much for your niece directly, she's her parent's business first.
Your best bet would be to feed her with all sorts of other fairy tales, calling them such.
One day she might be able to equal all fairy tales as only tales.
Keep on caring for her though...
I think your best bet is to tell her, casually, not making a big deal out of it, that you personally don't really believe there is a hell, or that she'll go there if she doesn't cross herself. If she asks why you don't believe, don't elaborate, she's too little, just say nonchalantly that "some people believe, others don't" just like some people root for Lazio and others for Fiorentina. A first step for kids' awareness and questioning is for them to know that not everybody believes the same.
As for the adults, if you hear the mom or dad (is she your sister or your brother's kid?) or grandparents blatantly scare her with hell, you may want to gently mention (in private) that she's just a little girl and you worry she'll have nightmares or grow up to be fearful if she's fed that scary stuff into her brain.
Ouch. Your situation really sounds pretty bad. I'm sorry that's the way it is for you now but remember that it does not mean it'll always be like this. You mother seems to be the most approachable person at the moment. Who knows, maybe she is waiting for you to open up to her. However, I'm just talking since i don't know your family and their interactions.
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina,
Well, it is worth a try. Thanks for the tip.