Dear Mort Alz,
God bless you for your humble good will.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles. Psalm 34: 4-6
Trust in Him. He knows your heart and your problems and will give you the strength you need.
Whichever college you go to, the Lord will be with you. Apply to the ones that may suit or attract you, and remember that God will be in your heart, whatever people are around you and whatever happens around you. There will be 'good' and bad' influences wherever you go. It's God in you heart and mind that matters.
And regarding your parents...so many parents have had the sorrow of their children changing faith, and sometimes parents can be surprising. Consider how St Paul's family, and the Jewish leaders who saw him as one of their best allies, must have felt when Saul changed his name to Paul and instead of persecuting and imprisoning Christians, he became one of the most dedicated early Christians.
And if you feel discouraged by your discomfort that you feel awkward about being a committed Christian when all around you others are living purely material lives, and even are hostile to your beliefs...well every one of the apostles except John, ran off and hid for their lives when Jesus was arrested. Only John stood by him, Mort. You don't want to emulate Peter and the others in their time of weakness. I believe you would prefer to be as John.
If the Holy Spirit could give Saul/Paul and John the courage to stand with Jesus when all around were either fearful or hostile, the Holy Spirit can give you that...each day, step by step.
Love and prayers, Trishie
As regards debate with others, give your heart and mind to God and trust Him to preserve you. You are God's son. You are precious to God.
And be mindful, that Scripture teaches us
“Have nothing to do with the pointless philosophical discussions and antagonistic beliefs of the ‘knowledge’ which is not knowledge at all; by adopting this, some have gone right away from the faith. Grace be with you.” [1 Timothy 6 20-21]
** “The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty and collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths.” **[2 Timothy 3:3-5]
**“This…is what I pray before the Father from whom every family, whether spiritual or natural, takes its name: Out of His infinite glory, may He give you the power through His Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.”
“Glory be to Him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to Him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.**” [Ephesians 3: 14-21]