Socially Ostrasized and Targeted for being Atheist

Hi, I'm new here.

Has anyone had a problem with being socially ostracized for being an Atheist? The only possible things that come from telling someone I'm an Atheist is that they either stop talking to me, get offended, or drag me into a religious debate and end up kicking my ass. I've been an Atheist since I was 12 and am versed enough in my reasons but religious people are always even more versed, they can quote everything ever written for and against religion, they train in their little bible study groups specifically for targeting and mowing down Atheists, and I just don't have the time to read up on every single argument just to defend myself from zealots. I've got my own studying to do and my own major which isn't religious studies. I don't have anything witty to say to theists to shut them up and whenever I ask them to show me God they never do and then they go tell everyone I'm an Atheist and no one talks to me because everyone thinks Atheists are the same as Satanists. Can't I just live my life without lying or saying "I was raised Catholic" when people ask me if I believe in God?

Looking for some emotional support.

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Religion offers people a reason to exist and a cause to fight for. That's very attractive to the average person whose experience in life is highlighted with disappointments of many sorts. Acceptance in churches, Bible study groups, jihads, etc., is something they can attain without much personal struggle, and then they're honored for it by the leaders of these organized groups. It feels good and they want more. It's hard to come up with reasonable arguments to sway them because they aren't interested in being swayed. Maybe if you had a Church Of Nicole with a big pipe organ and singing and thousands of followers, some of these people would be interested in what you have to say, but for the flimsiest reasons. So, don't even try to explain anything to these people, just nod your head at em and laugh inside, and come here to talk about your frustrations.

You have made taken a very progressive step by joining this website. Keep on taking steps to expand your network. After a while you won't feel so isolated, cause you're not really, you just might not have connected to the wider world of humanists out there yet. When I was 20 I was an atheist and it seemed pretty bleak to me till I found some intelligent people to talk to.
Don't worry as an atheist you will get attacted all the time. This will soon make you much better at debating these subjects than any beliver. Old atheists like me can see arguments comming a mile away.
It is quite funny when they think they just came up with something REALLY original.

Ps An atheist cannot be a satanist, since he is a deity and atheists do not belive in such.
*hugs* It's funny but your post reminded me of how I felt when I was a christian. A lot of my friends were gay, atheists, etc. and would want to get in religious debates with me. Even though I knew the bible better than most, I wasn't good at marshaling my arguments, and always just wanted to get out of the conversation. Now that I'm an atheist, I love getting into debates, although how intense they are has a lot to do with the other person. (I'm generally polite when discussing things with polite theists, and witty and cutting when dealing with jerks.)

You always have the option of saying that you believe religion is personal, and don't like to discuss your spirituality with others. Only the rudest of people jump over the "personal" line, and then you can just again say, "Look, I don't want to talk about this. I'd be happy to talk about something else, though."

One thing theists tend to do when trying to debate atheists is to keep you constantly on Defense, answering a barage of loaded questions. You can turn this around by asking them questions, and not letting them change the topic. I posted about this just recently on my blog here. Best of luck
Why not check out "Is God Imaginary".It's a discussion forum where believers and non believers discuss things in a (mostly) civilized way.I've been on there awhile,and enjoy the site.It's mostly got younger people like you on there.I'm considered an old guy over there.It is a bit more polite and restrained than some such sites.
The good news is that you do not need to argue with the religious. The burden of proof is theirs. All you need to do is be prepared to explain the meaning of atheism, explain that the burden of proof rests with the believer, and conclude by stating that this burden has not been met to your satisfaction. Those of us who argue generally do so because we enjoy it and not because we feel we must.

The bad news is that being socially ostracized for one's atheism is not nearly as rare as it should be.
You are doing just fine. Over many years, I have learned the futility of 1) justifying ones atheism, and 2) trying to convince the godlly that they can't and don't really know for sure. Now, if I am asked, I simply state that my spirituality is strictly a private matter and that I don't discuss it with anyone. If people persist, I will then say "I tried to answer you politely but it didn't work; how about none of your business instead?". Argument, or even polite discussion, is absolutely useless. Don't worry about being witty; it is beter to either be honest or to be silent. Do you really want these sorts as acquaintances? To paraphrase W.C. Fields, "I wouldn't belong to a church that would have me as a member."
Hey Nicole,

Just remember that we are none of us responsible for holding the front line. It's not a dereliction of duty to not get into a debate because you're having a bad day, or you're just not familiar with that line of arguement, or you just can't be bothered. We're not keeping score, you don't HAVE to make a big deal unless you want to! I like the tactic of asking to see God though :D

But yes, you should be able to live your life as an atheist, out and proud (to borrow a phrase). Sucks that you can't though :(
Hi Nicole,

Yes, this can be frustrating. With me, it's not so much about ostracism but more about being seen as a harmless eccentric, though ("What, you really believe people come from monkeys?"). And a nasty feeling of alienation from everyone else.

In most cases, religious debate is a huge waste of time. Well, they don't argue for the sake of discovering the truth, right? Why, if they know it already ;-) They do it to convert us godless heathens, or to feel they're one more step closer to heaven, or whatever. Hell, I just can't afford banging my head against a concrete wall - there are so many better things to do, and life is so short (and no "to be continued...")). So in this case avoiding argument seems pretty rational. And hey, it's the same as with spoiled children - the more attention you pay, the more important they think themselves. Don't do them such a favor:)

Besides, they always demand that their beliefs be respected - I'd say the absence of belief deserves respect, too. That's simply uncivilized, forcing a debate on someone who doesn't feel like it. You don't have to play along.

It's tough, though, that you get such a sick reaction to saying you're an Atheist. Just when will abstract concepts stop coming before people?.. Really drives me nuts. Hold on Nicole, I somehow hope not the whole world is like that. E.g. this site can be a proof, too :)
You will find people who will reject you...I look at it this way,if they are going to reject you for that reason,they were not worth being friends with anyway.
But you will find like minded people to be friends with,we are out there.
Finding us can be tricky though.
Question: Do people just come out and ask what you believe, or what faith you follow, first? And if so, do you ever turn the question around and ask them why they ask and why it's important to them? If they want to know if you're Christian, you could then ask what kind and why would it matter to them? You can just keep going on from there -- turning the question around.

I don't tell people I'm atheist for the same reason I don't tell people my sexual preferences, ethnic background, my opinions on Nietzsche, Tolstoy, and Zizek, or why I think beagles are the best dogs to have -- it's none of their damn business. If someone wants to press me on those questions, I have to ask why it's so important to them. If those things determine someone's opinion of me OVER actual experience with me, then I have to question that person's commitment to being an honest individual that I would want to deal with in the first place. I would always have a hard time discussing anything with someone whom I knew was always judging my statements and actions according to their faith rather than on the independent content of my statements and actions.

Part of my dad's family came from Eastern Europe. We don't know a lot about them, but they weren't Christian until they assimilated. My great-grandma stopped speaking English when she went senile; she spoke Yiddish and German. There were some Jewish cultural traditions in that part of the family, but they weren't practicing Jews, and those cultural elements were never identified as Jewish (I never knew until I met Jews). Those folks were also into fortune telling and contacting spirits and the like -- old world superstition, interesting folks to be around when you're a runt, lots of colorful stories. They may have been naive, but they weren't bad people.

When the pastor at my parents' church said in a sermon that anyone who hadn't accepted Christ was doomed to hell, that drove my dad right out. This wasn't any fundamentalist church, this was one of those Catholic-light Lutheran churches. We'd had non-Christian exchange students live with us, at the time I was dating a Jewish woman, my cousin was with a Baha'i woman, and he couldn't square that argument. Too many people in his own life were not Christian and were better than many of the Christians he knew.

I've always kept that in mind when these sorts of "are you Christian?" situations come up -- content of character above all. If someone needs to judge me or anyone else based on that religious criteria alone, then that person has demonstrated a shallow character that doesn't require much engagement. That's why I turn the questions around; rather than answer, or scold, or walk away upset, or upset them, I'd rather create a dialog that prods the asker to examine the ideology behind the question.

(Funny story: When I was an undergrad, I was often mistaken for a Greek guy I worked with. Then I lived in Ireland for a few years, and was constantly asked, unprompted, if I was Greek or Jewish; it usually came up in pub conversations (aside from the grandma, I'm neither). Once when looking for a flat in Dublin, a bunch of flat-seekers had to wait a couple hours to see the dump, so we got to talking and one guy asked me if I wanted to get a pint afterwards. Over the pint, the Jewish question came up; he was and Irish-born Jew, and there aren't many Jews in Ireland anymore, so was curious. I couldn't help him there. Great conversation though.)
Sure. I have been ostracized for being atheist. If someone is going to stop talking to you, get offended, or resort to violence, then you need not have anything to do with those people. If someone is for a good debate or discussion then by all means let them have it...destroy their argument with logic. If and when people are compelled to ask you about religion...if you aren't comfortable, then tell them you would rather not discuss religious matters. If you are comfortable with the people, then let them know you are an atheist.

You will keep running up on religious idiots, so it is best that you do some research and studying on the subject. If you are an atheist or anything else in life, then you should understand the reasoning behind it.

All the best,
The same thing used to happen to people who came out as "gay" now no one, or few people really care what others do with their sex life. Gay is no longer tabu. I believe the more good/educated/intelligent people reveal themselves as athiests, secular humanists, whatever semantic you choose, we will gain social acceptance to SOME degree. You can't fool yourself and have a non mainstream view then feel shocked that others shun you. If you believe you are right and just in your feelings or beliefs then the degree to which you become outspoken is directly proportionate with your own self concept and comfort level.
I've taken a lot of flack from "believers" over the years, but learn to put my shields up. I can argue with the best of them, but sometimes, I just don't want to waste my time or intellectual capacity on morons.
I'm not sure where you are in your educational level, but consider taking a rhetoric and reason course if you want to feel better equipt to argue intelligently. Otherwise, find common ground that isn't so inflammatory such as origins. Remember there is a huge difference between tolerance and acceptance. Many people will tolerate us, but realistically, you cannot expect to be accepted by you even want to be?


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