I think nearly all of us have experienced this. I found it even worse in the United States than I do here in conservative, heavily Catholic Costa Rica.
Why are Americans afraid of atheists? The belief that god does not exist is not hard to come by these days, and appears to be growing throughout the world. But as a Pew Research Center report put it, when it comes to religiosity, “the US is closer to considerably less developed nations, such as India, Brazil and Lebanon than to other western nations...”
I think there is one reason which, perhaps above all others, makes us atheists a threat to theists: we threaten to tear down the whole entire edifice of fantasy which they have built up and live in and use to make sense of themselves and the world and the social order. Simply put, they are afraid of facing reality and can't fathom what life would be like if they did so. Maybe they are really afraid of their own natures, and think that their religion is the only thing keeping them from acting as immorally as they would really like to. They are afraid of what it means for their identity, for their moral worth, for their sense of moral superiority and moral purpose. It is fear, fear, fear. In other words, they are cowards.
Precisely so. It also means letting go of all the programming and indoctrination which is part and parcel of religion. It means thinking for yourself rather than having a priest or rabbi or imam think for you, especially as regards morality.
It means taking action of yourself, being responsible for yourself, and being answerable for your actions. No more Jebus "get out of jail free" card. Also no afterlife to balance the books. If the books don't get balanced in this life, they never will be balanced.
It means owning your own life - ALL OF IT.
In other words... It means being an adult
Yeah ... how 'bout them apples?
The God Squad showed up on my doorstep today to "share a bible story." I just said, "No thanks fellas." Wish I had come up with something better.
Hey, next time they want to share a bible story, lay Judges 19:22-30 on them. SWELL story, too - make sure to share it with the kids, right? Right???
I've come across the idea that churches dominate social events in small town USA before, so it makes sense to compare being an atheist in a small town to being socially shunned. It makes sense that it's much easier to be an atheist in a big city, where secular social opportunities abound.
I certainly agree that living in a bigger city, where some diversity exits, is helpful. I'm happy to be living in the Northeastern part of the USA. We for sure have our religious zealots around here also, but my hunch is that a fewer number of them. Ever seem the map, depicting Canada and the northeast, northwest as "United States of Canada" and the remainder as "Jesus Land"?
I don't know about that.
I live in a small town in a red state on the Great Plains. My husband and I are pretty open about being atheists. There are social events connected with the church, but there are a LOT more associated with local government, local issues (the prospect of having our post office closed really brought a lot of people together), other social gatherings held in a restaurant, park, or other "neutral" location. After living here less than a year, as an "open" atheist, I was nominated and unanimously elected to the Library Board of Directors, and it was posted in the newspaper. Several months later, I was elected Vice President of that board, all the while having another person (heavily involved with the local church, no less), try to talk me into running for his seat as the chairman of the Village Board, as someone else suggested that I run for County board.
No, I'm hardly "shunned".... except by someone who moved here from the south... and then except when she wants something.
In general, people out here in "ranchland" don't give a flying hoot what you believe or don't believe, so long as you pay your bills, mow your lawn, keep your dog from running loose. It's even better if you're doing something to help your community out in some way - and nobody asks or declares what your rewards in some afterlife should be.
Personally, I prefer declarations of gratitude from people that come in the form of gifts of green beans, potatoes, a cut of beef, and fudge than being told they'll "remember me in their prayers". I believe in the food and can use it!
I had a great deal more problems when I lived in a metropolitan area of close to a million, during my Wiccan days, with my fundamentalist coworkers - plus the major events in my neighbourhood were held in a church.