I just thought I would share something with you all that happened to me about a month ago.
I am very open as an atheist, but I didn't always used to be. In fact, I used to have a job at a church (even though I had serious reservations about a god). Ironically, this is where all the bricks began to fall out of the mental prison. I saw the light alright, just not in the way they try to force you to in church, ; )
Anyway, as time has worn on, I have found the best thing to do is be honest about one's beliefs when put in a situation where people are discussing it. The reason for this in my case is that I find the bible to be very dangerous to society and degrading towards women, homosexuals, children,and others. I am sick of the cherry picked hypocrisy and flat out lying associated with the Christianity I have come to know- and I think that when it is forced upon you, one should defend their own mind.
That being said, I had a very recent (and unfortunate) incident with a Christian aquaintance (she is the wife of one my husband's friends). This person started bringing up their faith in god, and all this and that while they were visiting me (hadn't seen her in 3 years). I was really gentle about it, and I said as politely as possible that I was a non-believer. The conversation on "gawd all maghty" dissolved immediately, and we went on to other topics. The rest of the visit was wonderful and fun.
Sooooo.... right away after this visit, I started recieving those ridiculous bulk e-mails about miracles, with stupid sayings involving angels, and other assorted religious related crap. I knew it was a direct jab, because I was only getting religious e-mail from her. I told her as plain as day I am a non believer. After about the fifth time I recieved one of those stupid emails, I was over it. This is the typical "Christian love" I am used to. They smear their views all up in your face as an insult, but don't like it when they are criticized for this very inappropriate behavior. Then it is persecution, because as I have come to know, it is only persecution when it is their beliefs being skewered.
So, I replied to her after she sent me a propaganda email about keeping "one nation under god" in the pledge. I have never seen so much fail in one place! Wow! I sent her a very lengthy reply on why I disagree with this stance. I was detailed in my reasons. Did I know it would offend her? You're damn right I did. So why did I do it? Because there was no way to avoid offending her, to start with. But also, I am sick of religous people thinking everyone has to take the back seat to their toxic beliefs because those are their beliefs they hold so dear. You know what? I have my own beliefs that I hold dear, and if they don't like it too bad. They can criticize my thoughts as much as they want. It doesn't bother me in light of the evidence that is there to back it up. They get all ruffled up because it hurts their oh so fragile feelings. At what point does one grow up and come to the realization that not all the people in the world will agree with your magical book? At what point do you realize there is something wrong when you can't handle the thoughts of another person- but fully expect them to sit and nod while you tell them yours? They get all frustrated because of their own lack of evidence. They can't prove their beliefs to be real. They punch at the air.
Needless to say, she and I had a heated argument after she recieved my reply, but as far as I'm concerned she set off the powder keg. I think this needs to happen more often. Atheists need to stand up for themselves. We don't need to resort to violence. We have logic. I explained very logically my problems with "one nation under god" and she was so upset that she just went off. She also said if she and I were going to talk, I would have to not refer to her god as "That guy" or anything other than "god".
Uh, no. No one tells me what I can or can't say. No one tells me what I should or shouldn't feel. No one tells me that I have to unwillingly respect something I won't have in my own life- and for very valid reasons. They have gotten so comfortable thinking that this is a Christian nation. It's time to change that.