Are you open about being an atheist or are you in the closet?

I am semi in the closet. I do have to admit that I am not comfortable discussing my views with just anyone. I am the type that wants everyone to like me (such a fault I have!) and I am nervous someone will think I am a bad person. Even when I find someone who is passionate about science, I still try not to venture down that avenue. So lucky to have you guys!

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Ojay, Ouch! It really hurts when religion comes between parent and child. Even as we want to hold on to a relationship, it is difficult, at least for me, to listen to the rhetoric of religion when I know it to be babble. Yes, healthy and fulfilling conversation can occur here.

I am new to athiesm and just recently came out about it. My entire family including my wife are religious. As soon as I came out they began to get angry with me, condemning me to hell, and have ignored any communications with me. It is a tough situation but I choose to not take importance in other peoples ignorance and I've dealt with it perfectly fine.
Here in the northeast there is less of a hostile reaction, although I am in a neighborhood which doesn't embrace atheism. However, I lived in Virginia for four years, and I often felt admitting my atheism would endager my family's and my own life. A neighbor, whom I liked, actually admitted to me that she would stab me in the throat if she knew I was an athiest. (She wholeheartedly assumed I wasn't and admited to her tolerance toward catholics.) It was scary. As a teacher I saw students being indocrinated and even spoke out against a prayer being said before a staff meeting. The result of the latter was that the prayers ceased while I was there, but it was clear my complaint wasn't kept confidential. Luckily, I left that year, and I found out the prayers continued the following year.
I'm in the closet IRL, but pretty out and open on the Internet and on paper. I wish I could be open about it all the time, but there are reasons I choose to keep it confidential. The most important reason is denial of a career,  which I cant compromise at any cost because I'm still in the process of obtaining my degree. I can't lose over 10 grand over something that doesnt really matter if they know or not. Second it just makes my life easier while I am in such a vunerable point in my life--working(poor?) and student. 3rd people I care about don't need to worry about me going to hell. This is mostly very close and dear friends and older relatives and in-laws. Most will argue that "Well, if they REALLY loved you they'd except you for who you are." You have to get inside their head to understand this and the consequences which for me isn't worth it. It's BECAUSE they love you they want to convert you.  I love my grandparents so much that I will go to church for them. I don't want to see them worry about me when they are in the twilight of their years and I don't want my precious time with them tainted with conversations on god and the bible. It doesn't bother me at all their church is pretty normal a bunch of sweet old people socializing and no political connotations. I will sing hymns because I love to sing, and words are just words (especially when there's no one listening anyway) I can zone out with a pretty interested look on my face, and I'll now my head in respect (for my grandparents) but I'll think of a joke or song I've got stuck in my head when they are praying or make up satirical version of the one the minister made up. As for friends the same reasons apply, I like spending time with them, not talking about god--we wouldn't be such close friends we ever did. They dont promote politics that would invade on others lives and educations, they dont bad mouth others  race , sexuality ,or  beliefs  so no harm there. For strangers I don't know I'm a little less  accommodating. As long as they dont offend me I keep my mouth shut and talk about something else. I am really hard to offend but I have no tolerance for things I feel mislabel me and non-theists in a negative way, and/or intrude on my constitutional rights and personal life, block government funding for research involving life saving medicine, making me promote any identy with any religion by saying or displaying anything on my body, property, and interfering with teaching religious opinions in a public school setting. Everyone is entitled to their personal beliefs , the most "evil" thing you or ,worse an establishment,  can do to a person  is try to Big Brother their mind. Go if it makes you happy believe what you want , just keep it the hell away from any thing involving the government, public and non-theist specific private education, and my life and private affairs. Depending on the severity of the nature of whatever was said I will say something , and if I have say I'm an atheist and it won't effect my salary ( I've heard you have legal protection) I'll even say that I am an atheist, if I can't get around it with "that's none of your business." one day when I am established I say what's on my mind wether its polite or not. But for now it is best to stay where I am, you only get one shot at life not going to let them ruin it for me. 

Stephen, powerfully stated, a reframing the dilemma into the long view. As children, we learn how to not challenge authority and to obey adults ... perhaps children who are able to challenge parents and authority have more to offer than adults can even imagine. 
My mother smoked from the time she was 12 years old, she too smoked with windows rolled up while I was in the car, she died an excruciating death at 66 of emphysema.  

Teaching children to obey is not my highest priority, teaching them to think, reason, consider consequences, make decisions from their own reasoning power makes far more sense to me. 

Well I tried to reply to you twice but my I-phone went bezerk on me so here I go again. I really appreciate your input , I do know I probably should be more open than I am in RL, but for now I'm satisfied. Besides the pen (or keyboard) IS mightier than the sword, after all. I think one of the reason I'm so open minded towards theists is that to me religion is just an obsolete vestige of the continuing development of civilization. Most people aren't ready to accept that and that's fine with me. However, the creation business has to stop. If people want to personally believe all modern science that are accepted by the scientific community are just the way their god or whatever they believe in made the universe, I don't promote that, but there's nothing wrong with it either. Besides some of them become atheists anyway (I know I was one) I don't agree that religion hasn't shaped our civilization. In the middle ages, convents and monestaries were the only place common people could get a decent education, the catholic church also funded many universities that taught a helluva lot more than religion as well. Also many Christians, Jews, and Muslims made many proto-scientific discoveries and scientific discoveries that are the backbone of modern science. Religion has many symbolism, art, and mythologies that are valuable in the feild of anthropology as well. (I for one , am interested in the origin of holidays, and love catholic art) But I'll stress it again the really crazy ones need to keep their bible-thumping paws off of decisions of the government, education in general, and bioethics ( especially ones deprive other citizens of personal decidisions, and certain life giving research). Thats when I tell them they are wrong. Btw sorry about your mom, I lost my father when I was 5 to heart disease. He was 44. He really didn't like doctors for some crazy reason.

I haven't told my family but I suspect they pretty much know, I haven't been to church in years and there have been the odd comment here and there but I am non confrontational by nature and I won't convince them and they won't convince me so there we have it.

I was raised secular (being kin to Alfred Russell Wallace this is not so shocking.) I sort of morphed from someone ignorant about religion in general into a full on atheist during my four years of junior high. By high school I was pretty vocal about my atheism, and always in trouble. I had to change high schools because the teasing got so bad. Eventually I left my home state altogether. I'm from West (by god) Virginia, but I've lived in Philadelphia PA for something like 8 years. I find it easier to be an atheist in a multi-religious city. (It was nothing but Christians in WV.) Philly has many religions and nonreligious people living side by side, also it's the birth place of "secular freedom." I put that in air quotes cos well... We all know how "free" we really are.

Hi Allison, I am glad you joined A/N. There are so many lively conversations and great friendships form. If you have interest in politics, economics and religion and their interrelationships, please join us at Politics, Economics, and Religion.

I'm "in the closet" for now except for the internet and to known atheists. I'm planning on telling my friends and family when I am 18. Then they can't force me to go to church every day trying to convert me. Also when I tell my friends I won't face isolation if they don't take it well, and I can see who my real friends are.

I wish I would've realized that when I was under 18. Though I havent believed in god since I was 9 (I'm 30 now) I was still involved in some pretty derp "magical thinking" that was pretty unhealthy for me psychologically. When I made the jump to atheism/skepticism I found my mental illness (nothing too serious) are much easier to control. Religion is actually bad for my health ha! I'm way too idiosyncratic. When you go to college it might be easier especially if your going for science or art. Good luck!

I'm somewhat open with people about my atheism. I have a co-worker who is atheist and we have some pretty good discussions about science and religion. I've told considerably more people that I'm not a believer than straight-up said the word "atheist". I'm a horrible liar and do not like to equivocate, so if someone asks I'm going to tell them.


My husband is fine with it. He's more or less agnostic. He wouldn't label himmself an atheist. Other than him I haven't been direct with our immediate family, who are all very religious. I really would like to bring it up with my parents and sister, but they live far away and we don't see a lot of each other. I'd rather they not find out over the Internet, but if they did I suspect they wouldn't be too surprised. I don't try to hide the fact that I'm scientistic and have no interest in church-going. We have very good relationships and I really don't think they would treat me any differently, but I am a little nervous about it. It's the whole, I don't want them worrying about my soul burning in hell, thing.


I'm more worried about the kids and how our lack of religion is going to affect them. My mother-in-law asked recently if we were planning on sending the kids to Sunday School. Even though I had a pretty positive religious up-bringing, I'd be pretty pissed if someone (adult) told my kids they were going to hell. I know one of these days we'll have to have a conversation about it. I'm not really sure how to prepare them.


Fortunately, although I live in Texas there are at least a few different skeptic/atheist/humanist groups I can meet up with relatively close by. There is a humanist group I have been meeting with once a month, which always contains some lively conversations and is good for my "soul".   :)


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