I'm in an oven, wait, no, forgive me, I'm old, I keep confusing being in Phoenix Az with baking. Oh, and Ken, you have our sympathy regarding the missionaries, I understand completely...unfortunately it's a planet wide problem.
Robert, welcome to AN.
I baked during eight Phoenix summers and spent many weekend days (waiting for October) on an inner tube floating down the Salt River east of Scottsdale. Finally, before the downtown smog turned the air yellow, I moved to California.
I am in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Very lonely town for an atheist. When I say I am an atheist around here I am shunned as if I had a communicable disease. A few of my daughter's generation are a bit more enlightened though. They don;t really know what an atheist is, but are willing to at least hear me out when I tell them what I believe.
I understand. We lived in Miles City, Montana for fifteen years. South Eastern Montana is largely fundamentalist christian, catholic and morman, Conservatives. During our years there we started a salon at a local book store, organized the first 4th of July parade since the 50's, gathered the few liberals we could find and made friends. Soon we began hosting an open mic night and formed an arts co-op. We witnessed a slow but visible renaissance.
After two years that we are back home in Denver, The parade goes on, the arts co-op is bringing in outside talent, the salon is dead and the book store closed. Most important, the friendships and dialog continues. Don't give up. There exists, like minded people in your area. Find them and get active. Don't give up and don't give in.
I find it less important to tell people what I believe. People will know that you are not interested in their religion by your refusal to take part in their rituals and ceremonies. When you witness bigotry, inequity and general ignorance (and you will), state your position, confidently, without argument and know that you have done what you can.
that jives with what i'm hearing about children of fundies being somewhat more tolerant than their parents - suggests our message is percolating slowly down through the fundies protective strata - you are brave person - they respect that in the end
I live in Yonkers (less than one hour from NYC), and yesterday a lady looked at me as if I was a criminal when I said I was an Atheist; a second lady asked me which church the Atheists attend.
Whenever people talk about religion in my presence....I clearly state I am an Atheist. Trust me, the lack of knowledge about Atheism...and the rejection...is not patrimony of small towns.
Fortunatelly, young people are more open minded and they ask questions.
It's good to hear about the new upper middle class in India. Let's hope they do well, even be a model for other countries.
I rather assume that many of this movement will be familiar with (according to Wikipedia):
There are roots as far back as the 6th century BCE.
Western Poland, suprisingly lots of aths in here :)
Arnold, MO, just south of St. Louis.