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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Beautiful post.  I take it to mean, you don't need people who dig you just because you support their eccentric belief system. 

Prayer is cheap. It is words of no value to me and to many others. In fact, when I hear those words, "I'll pray for you",

When you hear that, tell 'em to do something tangibly good for somebody. 

Thank you for the reply and I'm very sorry to hear about your bout with cancer. I graduate college soon and after 4 years of only being home for 4 months out of a year I'm excited to see everyone more consistently. My grandmother is a breast cancer survivor and has had nearly every joint replaced with metal in the past 10-15 years. Her health hasn't been great but she's doing fine. I certainly want to see her and the rest of my family as much as possible. I remember seeing her after my freshman year after one of her surgeries and she looked like she was in very bad shape. That was a slap in the face and made me realize that my family isn't getting younger. Fortunately I have a good relationship with all my grandparents. They've done a lot for me and I wish I could repay them but with impending student loan debt I know the best I can do is just see them weekly, talk to them. Do small stuff for them at get togethers, etc. 

Good for you. My thoughts go with you. 

George, I think you're right. Just tactfully avoid the subject.

In the grand scheme of things these people will slowly die off to be replaced with a new more humanist belief system. Let's hope so anyway.

As much as I hate this "Christ died for you sins) nonsense, I abide with it realizing that as Dylan says, "The Times They Are Achanging" Once the God virus has taken over the nervous system of infected victims, there's no bringing them back, especially at that age. It's like trying to cure a bad case of small pox before the discovery of modern medicine.

Wisely spoken Richard. 

I’d say never compromise your personal integrity. In this country you’re free to believe (or disbelieve) anything you want. As Polonius in Hamlet said, “to thine own self be true.

Look at it this way, anyone who would judge you because of your religious beliefs isn't worth having as a friend. These are people who are so insecure they can only associate with people who support their delusional beliefs. How dumb is that?

I decided I was an atheist in 1982, following a decade of comparative religious study. My epiphany came upon reading an article in THE AMERICAN ATHEIST titled The Agnostic's Dilemma. I was only partially in the closet about being an atheist as far as my family was concerned. Most of my friends and co-workers knew I was a non-believer. My family found out in 1985 when I attended my first American Atheist convention in Austin, TX. Much to my surprise, only my mom, a staunch Roman Catholic, threw a fit. She's been performing novenas for me ever since then, hoping for my reconversion.

I was very much open about my atheism between 1984 until the late 1990's. I served as Vice-Director of the Conn. Chapter of American Atheists for three years and gave a number of public addresses at our regional meetings. I was also a prolific letter-writer and managed to get dozens of letters-to-the-editor published in local newspapers. I've lost interest in atheist activism since the late 1990's, although I'm not afraid to express my views on religion and church/state separation if the subjects come up in everyday conversation.

Gwaithmir,

I'm curious about a few things. Please feel free to ignore my questions as the answers may be personal and none of my business.

What were you attempting to accomplish with the activism you engaged in?

Was your disengagement for personal reasons or did you feel you'd done enough, passing the baton so to speak?

Has your thinking somehow changed regarding what you consider worthwhile goals for atheists?

Hi, Greg!

My activities were aimed at encouraging atheists to come out of the closet. I was also working with local members of American Atheists on various projects aimed at publically promoting atheism and church/state separation.

My disengagement was due to two reasons. Firstly, by the end of the 1980's American Atheists was being grossly mismanaged by Madalyn Murray-O'Hair and her son Jon. Membership was plummeting and entire chapters were seceding. Secondly, there was no other atheist group within reasonable traveling distance of my home after I had left American Atheists. It also became too expensive for me to attend national atheist conventions.

My thinking hasn't changed regarding what I would consider to be worthwhile goals for atheists, I simply no longer have the funds or the vigor of youth to personally pursue them.

Gwaithmir,

Thank you for sharing that. My interest is primarily the church/state issue so I certainly appreciate your efforts.

I guess I don't know many other openly atheist people. That's some surprise to talk with one involved going back to the the Madalyn Murray-O'Hair era. All I have is my own perceptions. No denying she made atheists visible but I can't say she did it in a way that made us popular. That might not have been all her fault though as I don't think anyone thought atheists were interesting, cool or trendy at that time. I think we're more popular than mass murderers these days so that's showing some improvement.
I hope you've found other interesting things to keep you interested.

I am out to very few people only because of my current employment situation. Sadly, my training, skills, and gifts do not translate easily into the "real" world, and because I do not have particular letters after my name, no one will look at my resume. So I'm trapped and stuck....not a very nice place to be in. It was, in retrospect, much easier to come out of the gay closet - at least there were supports in society-at-large, or more of them anyway.  

If people aren't in my face about religion, I don't go out of my way to confront them.  My whole family knows where I stand.  None of them has given their religion (Judaism lite) any thought at all, and they sure don't want to argue with me.  At a recent family gathering, many speakers thanked God for their good fortune. Yech.  I kept quiet.

I will soon be required to put my views into practice. Mom is 96. When she dies, I will attend her funeral but will not dress up (no skullcap or prayer shawl) or pray or -- and this is required -- say Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, which endlessly glorifies God.  Even when God takes your loved one, you kiss his ass. Not gonna do that.  They may not want me in their little holy house.

Never let people get away with with the stupid idea that an atheist cannot be a good, moral person.  

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