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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Joan, I always felt the same way on this point.  Plus, non-believers appreciate the wonder of it all.  The universe just is.  It's not just the product of an all-powerful God.  Like Richard Dawkins says, the garden is beautiful enough.  It doesn't need to have fairies at the bottom of the well. 

Oh! I like that quote, and your comment. We really have fortune to exist and to have all the receptors we need to experience our world. We also have the capacity to see beyond our capabilities with the development of the sciences. 

I am sharing Dawkins quote with attribution to you on Facebook, with your permission. 

I Just recently came out to my family. My husband came out to his mom first. Not planned at all, but she just straight up asked us why we weren't going to church anymore and if we believed in God. He didn't want to lie, so he just said "No." She reacted better than expected. She teared up a little, and wanted to know why. Eventually she asked us to watch God's not Dead because she thought it made some good points *eye roll*. But, all around, that was the best reaction we could have hoped for. Once she knew, I decided it was best to tell my own family. I wanted them to hear it from me before they heard it through the grapevine. 

I sent them an email. Both my mom and I are very alike in that we have trouble voicing anything emotional, and do much better in writing, and I thought it would be the easiest way to get my full point across without interruption, and give them some time to process before they said what they wanted to say. I had my younger sister relaying through text how they reacted. It did not go well at all. My mom immediately satarted sobbing and had a full on panick attack. She reverted to a nearly child-like state and was screaming for me, so my sister called and put her on the phone. After about 15 minutes of calming her down and assuring her it wasn't her fault (which was her biggest concern) she was handling it a little better. I went to their house the next day and we all (mom dad and sister, who is a closet atheist herself) had a very civil discussion about what I soecifically believe, why my beliefs changed, and what that means for everyone. Of course they are still concerned, but since my parents don't believe in Hell, it's a little easier to handle without the thought of her children burning forever.

When my older sister found out she was a complete jerk about it. She texted me and basically sandwiched insults between "I still love you." Things like "get your head out of your butt," and "if you want to die a spiritual death as well as a physical death, that's your perogative," were included. Along with the inevitable "Stay off the internet looking for reasons to doubt God." It was annoying, but hey, siblings are always annoying, right?

You can work it out once they get over "hurt" they think they have, Morgan. Keep in mind that discussions about your beliefs with your family should involve evidence and the lack of evidence. The bible, torah, koran, etc. are only words. They are evidence of nothing. Therefore, "jesus said" (or whoever said) proves nothing.

As for the movie "God Is Not Dead" it takes a pro-christian stand. The atheist in the film confesses and converts back to christianity having admitted that he was atheist "because his father died." This is the old "angry at god" stand that all christians want to believe about atheists. It also takes in the fact that christians think "everyone believes in god," even atheists.

This is sort of like me saying I do not believe in god because he did not bring me a pony when I was 6 years old. Oh, sorry! That was Santa Clause.

[groan!] Do NOT get me started about Kevin Sorbo and that waste of celluloid.  I think the term, "straw man" was invented for Sorbo and the film both.  It may even kill brain cells, though I haven't tested that hypothesis (and have no desire to!).

Yes, getting past the "bible isn't evidence" thing was difficult for my mom. Actuslly, she seemed unable to comprehend a lot of it. It seemed as if she had never actually met an atheist before, or knew what one was. Or maybe it was just that her idea of what an atheist was was so incompatible with who she knows I am that it just didn't click. But several times she asked really weird things like, "I know you don't believe in god, but don't you still accept Jesus as your savior?" and "But do you think that Jesus is the son of God and your intermediary?" I have no idea what she thought the answer would be, but I had to repeat myself over and over that I don't believe there are any gods, including children of gods. She also had a lot of trouble, and maybe still doesn't accept that there is not a dichotomy of believing he exists or claiming definitively that he doesn't exist. I tried to explain that there is absolutely no reason for me to believe a god exists, just like you have no reason to believe any other imaginary thing exists, but she is just too close to the idea of God as something absolute and tangible that she can't imagine a complete lack of belief toward it.

Once again we see that common denominator, RELIGION. When will people get over the idea that "my god can beat up your god." Hey, Charlie. You are worshiping the wrong god.

I'm not only out of the closet, I'm a loud mouth about it lol. While I do enjoy other people to like me, sometimes, I also am very honest, sometimes to a fault. A lot of people seem to hate me for that attribute though, oh well. At the same time, I don't continue talking about it with people if it truly makes them uncomfortable, or if they respectfully keep gawd and what not out of our convos, but if they're the bible thumping type I invite them to a nice debate, through e mail, makes it easier to keep everything within context, and so far two of the people I've debated this way have actually quit following religion all together, one came out as atheist herself lol.

Thanks, that made me smile. I've actually come across some rather open minded theists, in fact I took one to a Seattle atheists event on the psychological harms of christianity, it was pretty good. However I've also come across extremely closed minded people on the subject, dangerously so. One guy told me that people who haven't heard of jebus go to hell when they die, and he said he was perfectly fine with that. When I was obviously in shock, he compared it to "Well think of it like this, people in Africa who don't have a fridge can't ever eat ice cream, and you're fine with that". He's the same type to say without gawd they would go around raping and murdering all they want. And that's a scary thought. Which is exactly why I'm so open, education is the key to everything.

My uncle was a Superior Court Judge, and I capitalize the words deliberately. He had the voice of Moses and very strong feelings about what was appropriate for his daughter and me and all women. We were to submit and obey our husbands. period). I went to him 40 years ago and asked why law enforcement and the courts were so hard on women who were battered. I also asked why child support was so difficult to get from some judges. He told me that a woman who wouldn't stay in a marriage deserved no support. 

My other family members who are believers hate that I spoke publicly about family violence. My aunts accused me of speaking badly of our family and talking about what happened. I stated I was telling the truth and my Aunt Martha said she knew I was telling the truth, but we don't talk about it. She ordered me out of house.

From that day on I decided I would never remain silent again.  

My cousin's husband is a minister and they spoke to me as though the voice of god came through their larynxes. Another cousin who was a sheriff spoke as though he had the power of god himself and the state of Washington behind him. He knows how to order a crowd around, and he is as skilled with individual law breakers.

Therefore, I decided I had to speak as though the universe spoke through me and I had the authority of all nature, including the fire of lightning and sound of thunder. I would stand as tall as I could (I am among the smallest of the family at five feet two inches ). I held my head high, my shoulders straight, my spine as strong as steel, and my feet planted firmly on Mother Earth. I spoke clearly, calmly, authoritatively, accurately, and truthfully as I could. I told of my grandmothers', my mother's and my truths. I told the truth of battered women and police officers (police officers have the fourth highest family violence rate of all professions). I defined what happens in courts and the kinds of supports that are given to women with children (40 years ago it was absolutely shameful). I told of the role of religion in keeping women bound to values that come out of the Bronze Age. I described the ways physicians and psychiatrists treat battered women and the research that revealed the wide scope of the medical profession in maintaining and perpetuating family violence. I recounted the role of jobs that pay unequal pay for equal work and limitations of women for advancement. I told of women not having the right to say no to sex with their husbands, of not being allowed to use birth control, of not having a legal right to an abortion. 

So, the trick, at least as far as I experienced, is to be competent, confident, committed!!! Know what you think and why. You don't have to know the bible or historical dates. Just know the principles and speak with authority. For those who weep, well ... well ... well ... I don't know what to say. For those who see that you mean business, you shouldn't have too much trouble from them. 

The funny thing, when I am with family I never initiate a discussion about religion. The topic always comes up.  They speak their mind, I speak my mine, and all seems civil. I don't know what they think or feel, unless they tell me. If they don't tell me, then I let it go. 

I tell anyone who brings up their deity to me, assuming that I also have faith.  I am out and proud to my Baptist fiancé.  He fully supports me, and seems fine raising any hypothetical offspring with all of the facts and letting them decide for themselves after hearing both of our sides.  :-)  My immediate family knows that I am not Christian, but I haven't "come out" as an atheist yet, because I am a bit afraid of their reaction to that word.

My coworkers will find out if they ever try to talk to me about religion.  I work in a pretty safe environment, but so far religion hasn't come up.  Politics have, and I am happy to report that I work with several like-minded progressives.  I don't fear any reprimanding for my atheism at work.

My extended family will find out only after all of my lucid grandparents are gone, because they are extremely Catholic and I don't fancy killing Grandma because I want to tell her that I reject all that she holds most dear.

In general, I do consider myself to be an "out" atheist, because I don't hide it from most people.  But really there are a few people who I would like to tell...

Here's how I would handle that, Leah. If the subject comes up just tell people that you are a non-believer. If they start in on you say something like " I didn't say I had never attended church and knew nothing of god, I said I am a non-believer." It's a decision you have come to and the word "atheist" actually scares the hell out of a lot of people.




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