So, I'm a pretty new atheist. I've been a doubter for a very, very long time, but, until recently, just didn't deal with that aspect of my life. I just pushed it aside and ignored it. It's just been in the past couple of months that I've confronted the question of what I believe and come to realize that I am, indeed, an atheist. I've come out to a few people - my husband, my sister, a friend from work. But no one else. This discussion isn't really about my coming out to those I know, anyway. I did, sort of, come out very passively on Facebook by proclaiming my religious status as atheist. Point is - I'm new!

The other day, I responded to one of those silly Facebook polls. It asked "Should the phrase 'In God we Trust' be removed from our currency?" I voted Yes, and made a comment about how we live in a secular democracy and the government shouldn't be sponsoring any deities. Two people I don't know and am not friends with then proceeded to privately message me about it. I'm going to reprint one conversation here:

Religious Guy (henceforth RG): We are a representitive republic!!!!!!!!History shows that democracy finds that it can vote itself money and eats itself within 200 yrs!!!!!!!G

Me Fine, a secular republic then. Still built on the principal of freedom of (or from) religion.

PS - type a little slower next time so you make more sense.

Side note - yes, I should have said Republic and not Democracy

RG Jen, You are major cute first......Having "In God We Trust" on our money is not establishing a religion!!!!!G

Side Note 2 - was he trying to get on my good side?

Me It's establishing belief in a supernatural entity. That seems like religion to me, albeit not a specific one.

RG We have a right and need to be a christian nation as that is where we receive our blessings from..... free literature, request The united states and britan in prophecy on

Me We no more have a need to be a Christian nation as we do a Hindu nation or a Buddhist nation. You have a right to be a Christian, and I have a right to not believe in any gods. Our government does NOT have the right to establish any kind of belief in any kind of deity. See First Amendment of the Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

RG I hold that to mean "Catholic", "Protestant" etc. Our writers of the Constitution never had a vision that there would be those who would try to take God out of this government. In fact some are quoted of saying this nation cannot stand without Gods involvment. Things like Hindu, Islam, and Buddism are the mere thoughts of men. They don't even claim to be God. When you live in this nation, you benifit from the blessings of God!!If you say you have a right not to believe in any God, that is your "religion". Don't expect America to change from its inception to your religion of no God!! You are free to exercise your religion of no God, but please keep it to yourself!! Tks G

Me No, I will not keep it to myself. And I wouldn't ask you to keep your religious beliefs to yourself. We are fortunate enough to live in a country that, not only allows for freedom of religion, but also freedom of speech. I do ask that you not try to force your beliefs on anyone else. You need to do more research on Hindu, Islam and Buddhism before saying that they "don't even claim to be God." You also need to do more research on what the writers of our constitution believed about the relationship between god and government. Atheism is not a religion, it is the lack thereof.

End discussion - for now

He hasn't responded to my last message. Anyway, my question is - how do you think I handled that? It was my first "confrontation," I suppose, with a believer since I've become and atheist. I purposely didn't point out that ALL religions are "the mere thoughts of men" since I thought that would just incite him further and, by this point, I was ready to be done with the conversation. I know could have spent more time on his mistreatment of what the other religions believe and what the writers of the Constitution believed... but I didn't. Like I said - I was ready to be done with him and his blessings on this country.

So, just curious what you think about this conversation, what you would have said, how you think I did my first time, and any other comments you wish to make.

PS - I'm really, really grateful that there's a place I can go for feedback like this! Thank you, creators of AN!

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I've encountered that "I can't believe you don't believe!" douchebaggery before. The easiest response is just to turn it around and throw it back in the religiot's face. Point out that if he's walking down a railroad track and hears a loud airhorn, he won't pray for deliverance, he will get the hell off the track, because deep down he knows that prayer is exactly as effective as dumb luck. BTW, there is one situation where prayer does seem to effect events: sick people who know that they are being prayed for do worse more often than they get better.
Interesting about sick people. Can you cite that so I can read more?

I have been following the thread and have to say that you handled yourself beautifully. I found it was easier to test the waters of religious confrontation online in forums before doing so face to face with friends and family. Learn the arguments and make the inevitable debating errors with strangers before delving in to actual relationships that mean a great deal to you.

I spent two years reading books and perusing blogs such as Daylight Atheism and The Friendly Atheist before I took the first step of sitting quietly on a sofa while 25 family members stood in a circle holding hands praying over the evening meal. Talk about UNCOMFORTABLE!

I'm proud of you. We need more like you.

Well, thank you, John! I agree, it is much easier to test the waters online where I have time to formulate a response. Hoping I won't have to do too much of it in real life, but that's probably just wishful thinking. I'll just have to keep reading, like you suggest! :)
I think you did great. I think I even followed that thread for a while on FB because it was entertaining. It was either that or one about removing "under God" from the pledge. Both get fundies undies in a bundle.

Like John suggests, I practice my arguments on forums and blog topics. It's definitely helped me have the confidence to hold my own during those rare times when discussions IRL get spirited. And like you, I get nervous and my heart races and I get a flop sweat. Even though I try my best to be anonymous online with my identity where my atheism is concerned, I still worry that some wingnut will manage to figure out who I am and give me major grief.
You and I are kindred spirits!
you go girl ;-)
I think you did very well. I'm glad you pushed back and said that you didn't have to keep it to yourself. No apologies & no hesitation! Bravo!
Thanks, Turtle! :)
You did very well and you were much nicer than I would have been.
"god-less commie pinkos".

OK Dave, now lets get it right. The commies were "red", its the "fellow traveller" who were "pink"!! Looking back, its amazing how silly it all was.


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