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'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". :)
Totally out of the closet, but I was fortunate enough to have a non-religious upbringing and live in an area in Canada where people are much more willing to accept non-theists and atheists.
Still in the closet, but that is about to change. So far, my husband is the only person who definitely knows - and he is not happy at all. Most other people still think that I am just going through a time of doubts. So far, I have not had the courage to tell anyone that I have left my doubts behind and reached a point where I know that I am no longer a Christian.
I haven't been in church for more than a year but officially I am still a member. Last week, I finally emailed my pastor and told him what was going on. I guess by now the whole church knows and they are busy praying for me... I will have to face them personally some time soon because to officially leave, a personal conversation with the church leaders is required. I am really not looking forward to that :-(
At work, faith or the lack thereof isn't really an issue. People may not understand my point of view, but they respect me anyway.
My biggest challenge will be to tell my parents. I don't know how to do that yet. We live a few hundred kilometers apart and this is not really a conversation I want to have over the phone. But my mum constantly brings up religious topics so I guess sooner or later we will reach a point at which I would have to lie in order to keep my secret - and that is something I will not do. I really feel bad about this because I know they will be extremely disappointed (and worried about my eternal salvation).
I have not yet made any contacts with atheists in my area (only checked it out online, there are a few organisations, but I am rather shy and don't feel too comfortable about showing up in a meeting with total strangers).
I have no suggestions other than to have confidence in your decision. My favorite confidence building strategy is to watch what others have to say about their beliefs. These give me ideas to ponder and reject or consider. I am aware I am breaking the rules of thinking by referring to authority, however, to refute stories told by theists, I need to know what other people think about theist and atheist ideas, not to blindly adopt them, but to critically think about them.
Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson - Greatest Sermon Ever
Biologist Richard Dawkins on Pascal's Wager
Geology Noah's Flood Debunked
Aronra The Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism -- Complete Series the 1st video is the entire series, the rest are by each fallacies.
It helps to lighten up a bit and to do that, I watch funny atheists,
George Carlin George Carlin on Religion and God
There are also cartoons out that ridicule beliefs in ways that make me laugh.
I also really like Dan Barker's books, especially Godless - good for one leaving the faith in need of 'back-up'.
@Steffi - that strong arm tactic the church is using with you is just inexcusable, you have to speak with the church leaders as if they own you, as if you 'owe' them anything. It's just that, a strong-arm tactic. As my husband said, I think I'd let them speak to my attorney if they refused to take my name off their rolls as requested without their little 'face to face' attempt to maintain their fold.
wow, that's tough, glad you find some solace online, and hopefully you'll find like-minded people in real life in a not too distant future.
Congratulations sir! Most people don't have to worry about being an atheist, except for personal and social repercussions.
You are a brave person!
Out and proud! Brand spanking new AN member, here. I just moved from New Mexico to rural Missouri, and it's been both more and less of culture shock than I expected, in different ways. New Mexico is definitely more religious than Missouri (statistically, speaking) and heavily Catholic, while Missouri is primarily Protestant of some sort or another, from what I can tell.
But in NM, I used to wear my "Christianity Is Stupid" T-shirt openly, whenever I felt like it (y'know, from the NegativeLand song of the same name). Even wore it to class a couple times, without incident (it was clean :). I'd get the occasional dirty look or comment, but usually just surprise that I had the huevos in such a heavily Catholic community. Most folks that commented on it thought it was funny.
Here in Missouri, I wouldn't even wear it around the farm. The sense of self-righteous piety is palpable. There might be fewer true believers, here, but too many of the ones we have are willful and confrontational. God talk is everywhere - on half the t-shirts people wear, 1/4 of the billboards along the road, throw a rock and bust out a church window. In general, they are more zealous and easily offended than NM.
So I might not wear my favorite t-shirt, now, but I'm sure as hell not going back in the closet. It's stuffy in there. My GF's Grandpa died and her aging, almost blind Grandma was facing the end of her years in a home, so we pulled up stakes to come take care of her - she's also an out of the closet atheist. Not any of the true believers in her family - we the heathens did, and I think it's been something of an eye-opener for the moralizers in the community who thought all us atheists were amoral bastiches.
Should be interesting! I joined AN to try to find other atheists/agnostics/humanists/skeptics in MO - never felt like I needed support group in NM. Here? Oh yeah. We're definitely going to need to find some like minds who use their minds. Looking forward to blogging about my experience in the coming months/years!
Lovin' Atheist Nexus!!