Well I'm not in the closet. If anyone asks me I won't hide what my beliefs are. Same thing with family, although they are more in denial (The younger ones know and accept it; they don't give me any problems at all). I used to be in the closet for a long time then realized it makes no sense worrying about offending people when it means you can't even be true to yourself. Where I live, you will get scorned for it but its not as bad as say, a Muslim dominant country... If they aren't afraid to go door to door waking people up 6 in the morning than I sure as hell won't be afraid to voice my own opinion when the situation arises...
I like your enthusiasm and confidence and know you have the strength to stand up to opposition. You can be proud.
im semi too. there are certain people in my life who have known me for a long time. they at some point figured out i was an athiest. either i told them or they did the math. i dont broadcast my lack of faith. though there are people mostly from my work who have known me for a while and dont know. it seems as though a lot of people at my work are very religious and outspoken about it. im not sure i would like for these people to find this about me. i however think that im a ticking bomb sometimes. i think in the right circumstance i would probaly exspose myself.
I hope when religious people discuss their beliefs at work you will be able to calmly and rationally state your beliefs, with the knowledge that you have the ability to reason for yourself, think through the evidence and arrive at your conclusion, without feeling defensive.
I like discussing my thoughts with people of faith who are able to stay rational. If they don't like what I say, or try to bully me into submission, I know I deal with factors deep within their minds that cause them to protect themselves, even as they can't produce evidence that makes sense.
This video offers an example of Richard Dawkins' debating style with John Lennox. He debates on debate points and stays calm as Lennox debates on issues of faith. Oxford Museum of Natural History hosts this fascinating and controversial debate on the existence of God.
From my perspective, to believe in god gives meaning to some people's lives. I don't think existence works that way. Life is, has evolved from simpler forms, and we exist as part of all that is, made of the basic elements of the universe. Our time as "being" is very short and each moment is precious. The purpose of life is not to please god or anyone, it is to be. That is what life is, being. The simple fact of being is my meaning and purpose and opportunity. My senses experience life by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling with my skin and feeling with my heart.
Think through the different issues that come up with those who believe god exists, who answers prayers and keeps track of our sex lives. Figure out what you think and then stand proudly, firmly, confidently and competently on your values.
I am 76 years old and have an 86 year old relative who is convinced he will bring about my conversion before one of us dies. His wife tells him not to discuss religion around me, but I seem to be like a flame to his miller. He gives the nice hug and greeting and then starts asking me if I have met my lord, or if I have come to reason. I respond as clearly as I possibly can to each of his comment, exhortations, and frustrations. Generally, he turns in exasperation and walks away. The next time I see him he has a beautiful or whimsical birdhouse for me. The next time we are together, we have the loving greetings and usual starting conversations, and then he starts in all over again, with the same questions, the same imperatives, the same frustrations, and next visit I get a birdhouse.
I'm becoming more open now.
Steph, how do you feel when you do reveal your status? Are you OK?
I can't say I understand this "being in the closet" completely, however one must be carefull not to bring your status into the conversation prematurely as you may lose ground and start looking like an attraction seeker. Maybe my view differs slightly because I come from a country with a secular based constitution. The topic has been debated in government concerning religious public holidays (easter and christmas) and its legitimacy/ fairness. The christian faith is by far the majority, however this is a country of multiple significant religious groups. On the topic of GOD I would just like to add my latest thoughts. The GOD personality that has been created by this collection of "byble" books depicts god as black and white. There are no mitigating circumstances, you are guilty, even for the apparent wrongs of your parents, you will burn. It sounds somewhat like the whims and wishes of emperors and the likes of those days. The creators of this god knew no better, yet religionists today still buy into it believing the character of god was revealed through god himself to them. It boggles my mind.
Many of my loved ones and friends dislike the militant attitude I take about religion in the public sphere and I understand they feel strongly about their beliefs. I feel strongly about mine, too. When someone interferes with health decisions, whether use of contraceptives or abortion, I cannot remain quiet. A woman's health is her business and responsibility and not religion or political ideologue has a right to interfere. I have no objection at all of people not using contraception devices or choosing not to have abortions and I have no right to object. Nor do others have the right to interfere.
When it comes to writing laws about women's control over their own bodies, they are just plain in error on this issue. Family planning and choosing not to have children is a right, not to be intruded upon. It is insanity to bring an unwanted child into the world or to interfere with family planning in those cases where the mother doesn't want the pregnancy or can't afford to raise a child. That is a personal, private matter.
I am not only open but I am also outspoken. If the religious assert their position all the time, I don't see why we atheists shouldn't do the same. That being said, I do understand that many atheists are not coming out because they face dire consequences for doing so, and I do sympathize with that. But I think those of us who are fortunate enough to be on the open, have to be outspoken so we can do our little part to help those still in the closet to come out.