A lot of you probably share my primary reason: coming out is just too much trouble.

I became an atheist shortly before I left for college, but I had a lot of friends at church, and my parents are serious Christians. I thought I could wait until I got to college to tell them. I had no problem with being open to new friends at school, but I kept putting off telling people in my home town about my deconversion. Now I'm back for the summer after an academic year, and the situation hasn't changed - they all think I'm a committed Christian.

Unfortunately, I never made many close friends in high school, so the only people I'm still regularly in contact with are friends from church. I want to be able to express my honest opinion, but I value their friendship more than my own integrity at the moment - I am not an introvert, so a summer alone would be worse for me than a summer of pretending to believe a lie.

This thread isn't just for me. Share away.

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I'm totally out of the closet in some ways - still undercover in others.

Although everybody at work knows about my atheism, none of our customers do. It would probably upset some of them, since they are fundamentalist Christians. And I'm in the middle of the Bible Belt. So even though I have known these customers for years - and made friends with some of them - coming out of the closet could cause the company to lose some of these accounts. And that could put my job in jeopardy. So I won't do it.

Everywhere else though - work, family, friends, and even with some people in foreign countries - I am totally out of the closet. I was treated badly by some, when I first came out at work. But fortunately, my company is scared to death of lawsuits. All I had to do, was mention the fact that I had filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union - and the harassment ceased.

I suspect that this is the way things are going to have to be done.

I think we should all take some lessons from the gay rights movement.

Workplace harassment of gays did not stop because the boss's suddenly gained some insight, and decided that this was the right thing to do. No - not at all. The bosses simply do not care about the rights of ANY of their employees. But what the gay rights people did, was to start winning lots and LOTS of lawsuits. Then all of a sudden there was money involved, which was all the bosses ever cared about anyway - and the harassment stopped.

That's the key word . . . WINNING.

Workplace harassment of women, minority groups, and others - followed a similar pattern.

Once the bosses start losing money over it, the workplace harassment STOPS.

So I think atheists should take a lesson from all of these groups. We should be getting our OWN lawyers together, and doing to the workplace what other groups have done. But the idea isn't to simply FILE lawsuits - it is to WIN lawsuits. And in order to do that - we are going to need some very smart lawyers. We are going to have to pick the battles we CAN fight - and stand a reasonable chance of winning. And we are going to have to recognize the fact that not EVERY battle can be won; and whether we like it or not - and you know we don't - some of us are going to fall between the cracks.

In other words, some of us are going to file lawsuits and lose. That's just how it is. But this is a lottery in which there ultimately are no losers. If one court case doesn't make it in one part of the country - then an IDENTICAL court case might make it somewhere else. And all we need is just ONE court case to set precedent - and empower all of our rights as LAW.

Are we up to the challenge? I certainly think so.
Yeah, you know, it's just such a pain in the ass......It's my family that i have yet to tell. We just moved so being open about it to new friends is not so much an issue. Although, living in the Charleston, SC area presents a bit of a challenge....
I'm just not ready to let my family know. I think they would "accept" it as best they could, but i can see it now...."I just worry about you" "i dont want you to go to hell..." etc, etc.....

I would rather not put them through that if that makes sense. Religion doesn't even come up much, so it's just easier to let it be.
Two words: Catholic Parents.

To expand, the reason I haven't come out yet is because I am still financially dependent on them. I have tuition exchange with a big list of colleges around the country because my dad works at a college. He has as much as stated that If I do something they don't approve of (his example was if I "became gay") they will stop supporting me ( = me having to take out huge loans, instead of small loans for room and board)

Thankfully, I arranged to go to college in Philadelphia, a nice, accepting liberal arts college 950 miles away from my parents house in Illinois. It's been hard getting through the summer after spending two semesters in Philadelphia, but I'm leaving for Philly again on Tuesday, so I won't have to "hide" again for a long while :D
Apart from my parents, siblings and a few close friends who know of not only my atheism, but also my distaste and resentment towards religion, most of my larger family and other ppl i know think i am a pious christian, just because i dont drink or smoke! i did go on a anti-religious rampage on facebook last year, but my dad asked me to stop when someone at work found out, before knowing you can close the acc. i tried changing my name like a coward. well be it as it may i later met the ppl in question and just couldnt deny my views, if the topic comes up i feel obliged to step up to the plate, if for nothing else than my own sanity. however until my grandpa rests his head i will continue their assumptions of me after which i want to recall my christianity at the seventh-day adventist church, who not unlike the catholics will claim you to be their property forever once you became part of them
Hello. I'm 36 and have been an atheist as long as I can remember, since I was a child. I live in the bible belt and it's usually easier just to keep quiet about the whole religion thing. People here will automatically assume you're a xian. So they start spouting all their mumbo gumbo and I just ignore it, though I'd love to tell them not to preach to me. I'm not totally closeted. I think most of my family knows, and I told my husband early on when we were dating (which I told all my bf's) that I was an atheist and if he had a problem with it, our relationship ends there. He was fine with it, despite being an xian. He doesn't go to church anymore, but his family does. I don't think he's told them, because his mom sends me religious emails all the time. I think it's not really my place to tell his family, and I'm not going to because it may cause my good relationship with the in laws to become nightmarish. I would love to live in a more open minded location, but for now I have to just quietly put up with it and vent my frustrations on unsuspecting groups like this.
Hello I am an atheist and truth be told I have always been one, though I only recently admitted this to myself. It was actually the YouTube atheist community that made the recognize my own atheism and admit it to myself only this April, ironically April 1st first to be exact. Looking back I recognize that even when I was younger I doubted the stories my family and church tried to tell me were true and never really believed any of them.

My family and the majority of my friends are Christian and I have no real idea how any of them would react. I believe that my friends will react with respect and an open mind, my family on the other hand my not react as well and my friends in the church definitely will not. I have not told my friends because while I am reasonably sure they will mostly react well I am not so sure that I could tell them without my family finding out, as some of them are also friends of my parents and the only way I can contact the rest during the summer is through Facebook which my family also use. I have not told my family because I am not so sure as to how they will react. I want to tell them but most likely I will wait until I am back at school in the fall.
I stay undercover b/c I worry about loosing my job. I work with a bunch of fundamentalist. Nothing like getting into a truck at work after someone else has the radio set to one of the Christian radio stations. I admit I listen for a laugh every now and then, and sometimes find out what the Religlious are up to. ( Does that make me a spy ? )

At this point if I lost a friend because that person will have nothing to do with me because of my 'Freethinking' then I don't think we were friends. Just the same I am not out to shock anyone, I want my friends to know me an like me for who I am. I want the to see I am good without god.
I am undercover simply because I remain dependent on my parents for food, and shelter. That is all. I don't think I will ever talk to my parents much at all - especially about religion... there are so many reasons not to tell them, so many years of pure hatred against them, so many times I kept my mouth shut when I wanted to scream and give into my rage. My family members are smart people - they recently watched the Blair vs Hitchens debate online - they have been exposed to the contradictions, the best arguments, they have been excommunicated from many church groups for being more puritan than even the puritans. They have spent their lives on their faith. IT IS NOT LOGICAL. IT IS EMOTIONAL NEED. My parents desire for an all caring father figure and purpose in suffering (the gift of godhood), has caused me immense suffering. Even if they totally 'repent' to me and say they were wrong... even give me money. Nothing can erase the years of suffering they caused me. BUT alas they will not. It is too late for my parents, or even my oldest brother to see reason. Another brother of mine admits there is no evidence for his belief, he understands the real meaning of faith - believing when there is no evidence, yet he still has faith and thinks the bible should remain in the non-fiction section of the library - he still wants to spend his life trying to 'mind control' other people. How sad.

I am sick of lying. When I am independent I will tell the truth, and my real opinion for the first time in my life time.
I've been dropping hints to my mom, but can't manage to actually say the "atheist" word; I honestly don't think she'd be upset, though.  Worried or confused, maybe, but not more that she was the first time I dyed my hair blue.  My roommates, on the other hand, I'm actually kind of scared to tell.  One was raised conservative Christian, going to a private Christian school, and still really buys into all of that.  The other was raised Mennonite through age 8 and takes the Bible very seriously.  Their two of my good friends, beside the religion issue, and since I don't feel like dealing with problems that may arise, I'm just keeping my thoughts to myself for the most part.

I suggest someone fearful of retaliation, at least from their family, take it slow and pretend to be slowly losing faith. This will backfire if you are under 18 and your parents are the kind to force you to horrible camps, workshops, etc if they think it will force the faith back in. But start with saying things like "I'm questioning the bible/God/our religion" or "I disagree with what the pastor said" or bring up one of the issues in religion you know well that turned you atheist, and express it as a problem to them. Later express your disgust or shame of the worst people in your parents' religion and make it clear you have a problem with being associated with them. Take it as slow as you want, you can progress to then being a deist or an agnostic and once they get used to that start with atheism. Or maybe you'll find that you won't even need to come out as an atheist if coming out as an agnostic stopped them from talking to you about religion. The point is they will learn a little bit about other perspectives if you give them time to reflect at each of your stages. You can change their tolerance of others' beliefs this way.


My parents are pseudo-christian cult members and after about a year they accepted my atheism.

I'm having the exact same problem! I've been an atheist since fifth grade -- I'm a high school sophomore now -- and it scares me to death to even consider coming out.

I had an unfortunate experience with it in seventh grade. My classmates were talking about nothing in particular, and somehow the conversation shifted to religion. Someone asked me if I believed in God, and I replied, unabashedly, "No." They were all shocked! One girl actually said that she couldn't be my friend if I was an atheist. She asked me a couple of questions, like "Where do you think you came from?" to which I replied, "My parents." Duh, right? Then she asked where my parents -- no, people in general -- came from. I didn't know as much as I do now, so I had a bit of trouble answering that one.

But that experience taught me something: never make that mistake again. And so I have lived ever since. I either tell them I believe, or that I'm an agnostic. Lately I've been telling them the latter. I always see to it that I stay in the closet, because I don't know how people will react. Some hypervigilant part of me always anticipates a bad reaction -- and for me, bad reactions equal hits on my self-esteem.

It's a real drag keeping this a secret. I've been bullied for eight years, though, and I want to escape that, not walk right back into it! I know this next part sounds really stupid, but -- how else will I be happy?




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