I'm out to just about everyone in my social circle: family, friends, etc.

But what about co-workers? I'm the token scientist in a heavily religious office in a politically conservative profession. (Honestly, I like my job!)

Anyone feel the need to be out at work? I should say, nobody proselytizes me. Rather, there's just an assumption that all are religious.

One person who worked for me was deeply Catholic, leaving around Knights of Columbus material on his desk. He was also a poor performer (and a boorish, lazy man to boot), and I was concerned that when we let him go, he'd try to claim I was discriminating against him. So I was happy to be in the closet during that sad, stressful incident.

So sometimes it's good to be in the closet at work. What do y'all think?

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Replies to This Discussion

yea, i agree, in certain situations its ok to tell people. sometimes they will get the hint just if you outsmart them enough times.
Mike, I feel for your situation. There is this need to be yourself no matter where it is and already the "work persona" can take a toll. Add in the stress of feeling like you should hide your non belief and you as an INDIVIDUAL with a right to express opinions is stripped down a little bit more. It's really a sad world in which we live that this is even an issue.

I think if you know that "outing" yourself at work will make you feel a little bit better about your everyday experience- KNOWING that you stood up for what you believed in, even if just in a small way like public admittance, then you should certainly go for it.

There are certain scenarios, however, in which this may not be a good idea. For example, if you feel this would so negatively affect your work environment that it could possibly lead to your resignation or you being "let go" for some other reason. Otherwise, why not be yourself? Work takes up so much of our time.. I find it hard to justify being a shadow of yourself and hiding behind a mask of conformity to appease a society shrouded in the falsities of superstition.

I will confess to hiding behind this mask everyday myself, though... My job happens to work extremely well for me- I have been there 7 years, am paid decently for what i do, have a very nice office, good hours, etc- BUT i work for a Christian author and everyone, and I mean everyone is a Christian Conservative Republican. Since my job is working with Christian authors, pastors, etc and passing on their material I find myself in a constant conundrum. Do I leave my job and find something that better suits who I am but has worse pay, hours, and I won't be sure about? Or do I stay comfortable in what I am doing, with my skills, and with my pay but be forced to smile and nod like I don't know anything about anything, la di da... :)

I hope you figure out what will work best for you! I know that someday I should get out of where I am, but I guess for now I'll choose pay over person, lol.
As long as you don't have to actively pretend to be Christian, and you're happy doing what you're doing where you are, then I don't see any problem not deliberately screwing that up. It is unfortunate that you feel you have to hide behind a "mask", but whatever works for you is fine. I feel like work life is one of those places where you don't have to reveal every intimate detail about yourself. I think you should say something if people are saying derogatory things about nonbelievers or are waxing on and on about the glories of Jesus Christ, but if it's just implicit in the environment but doesn't affect social interactions too much, its not necessary that you 'out' yourself.
I was only out to certain people at my old job, but I started a new one yesterday(!) and the person who hired me already knew about my atheism and what she calls my "atheist" blog. I've felt I had to be pretty much closeted at my job for the last four years, and that was definitely a big factor in taking the new job - it was a lateral, not a promotion. The subject already came up today, and I didn't feel uncomfortable at all. Whew!
I'd say evaluate the situation at work. If the majority of your co-workers are deeply religious, then I wouldn't engage in "spiritual" topics of discussion. Just walk away from religious discourse (i.e. excuse me, I need to use the restroom). Getting yourself fired, even if for discriminatory reasons, won't better our cause. However, if the majority is freethinking then you can all make the "faithfull" feel ostracized for believing in whatever omnipotent space buddy they have their "spiritual connection" to. Wouldn't that make for a fun work day=).
In my line of work (Starbucks, meh), it's not a big deal to let everyone know that I'm an atheist. I'm not a supervisor or manager, so I don't have to worry about the situation you mentioned. And I also live in San Francisco so most people don't care.

But I can see where things could get sticky. I don't think religion belongs in the work place, but I suppose if a coworker asked you about your religious beliefs (or lack thereof), I see no harm in answering truthfully. I doubt that would happen though because you said people assume everyone is religious.
I see no reason to broadcast it, but I'm not about to outright lie to anyone. If someone at work were to ask what my religious beliefs were, I wouldn't hesitate to tell them I have none. I don't believe in pretending to be something you're not, no matter what the reason is.
At my last job, I didn't go around telling everyone, but if someone asked me or asked about something and assumed I was religious, I would let them know...so several of my past co-workers new I was an atheist. But it was a large entertainment company, so there were a LOT of different religions/non-religions in the office (though mostly Christian-based). But now I have my "A" pin, so sometimes people ask me about it, and I tell them. Of course, now I've been unemployed for a year and three months, and I'm a lot more "out" than I used to be (since I discovered Facebook and plainly state my "beliefs" there). Who knows what my next job will be like (or when I'll have one...sigh). I'll continue to not "broadcast" but not prevaricate, either. :-)
I guess it depends on how open-minded your coworkers are. Both my boss and my workmates know I'm an atheist, and I've had absolutely no problems because of that (and my boss is a devout catholic). ;)
We all understand that faith is a personal issue, and what works for a particular person may not work for others, so trying to impose our point of view to others is useless and would only lead to losing our great friendship. However, not many religious people are that respectful, nor many atheist as lucky as me... :(
It's a tricky one; I wouldn't personally want to come across as proselytising atheism if only because it gives licence to religious employees to do the same, but if they simply assume that their position is the only one that exists in the workplace, then they probably should be disabused of that; but then I do live in the UK.

In my place of work the non-religious out number the religious 2:1 according to a workplace diversity survey. The chances of upsetting anyone's religious beliefs is actually quite low. I suppose fact that they are the minority makes a lot of them quite deferential.

We have quite a few Muslims in. Most don't say anything about religion (not in English at any rate), some are happy to talk about their religion constructively, but one in particular used to like proselytising.

He was gradually put in his place by a fellow freethinker (and mathematical genius), who talked to him over a period of many months about this and that. These days he doesn't do so much proselytising or if he does he confines it to his breaks.

I once presented him with Ibn Warraq's - "Why I Am Not a Muslim"; he refused to read it, saying - albeit politely - that he thought it was full of malicious lies.

"How do you know if you haven't read it?" I asked.
He countered feebly, saying that the very title was malicious.

"What, just because someone isn't a Muslim, makes them malicious?"
He smiled pleasantly, evaded the question.

"If you can find a lie in this book then show it to me, because if you can its something I'd like to know about?" - I said. It's amazing how these religionists squirm in the face of cogent opposition, when you can see the realisation in their eyes, when even they can see how pathetic their excuses actually are.

Great fun; but we should be careful not to become to boisterous in our opposition, for the sake of our jobs. Even so, it would rarely be a problem in the UK simply to Come Out as an atheist in the workplace; after all atheists don't demand special privileges.

We don't wear crosses, crucifixes or veils, when the dress code forbids them; don't demand extra time off for religious observances or special - demarcated - rooms to pray in (one for each gender). Nah, as far as employers are concerned atheists are relatively low maintenance employees; asking nothing more than that which is common throughout (and as such can not be singled out).


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