I look at my search engine results quite a bit and have noticed that several people find my blog by typing in the phrase, “How to come out as an atheist” so I’ve decided to write a bit from my own experience for those who are seeking inspiration.
Step One: Realize you’re an atheist. This may seem to be a given but for the longest time people will have the knowledge that they don’t believe in a god and still label themselves otherwise. You’re an atheist. If you can’t share this with anyone yet, refer to yourself as one privately.
Step Two: Tell a trusted friend, mentor or family member (preferably someone who isn’t too religious himself). This is a test - not for the person you’re telling (well, maybe a little) but to see how well you handle his reaction. Having your friend accept you is the best possible outcome but isn’t guaranteed. If you meet rejection or criticism, don’t be discouraged. You’ll meet much more in the coming years. If you don’t get the reaction you hoped for try coming out to someone else. People will always surprise you.
Step Three: Join an atheist/humanist/skeptical/freethinker meet-up group in your area. If there isn’t one in your area, consider joining atheist-friendly forums like the Richard Dawkins Foundation or the James Randi Educational Foundation. You should definitely join Atheist Nexus where you’ll find tons of like-minded individuals and causes to suit your tastes. You can start your own group, post in the forums or write your own blog entries.
Step Four: Get used to the controversy. A good way of doing this is starting your own blog and receiving negative feedback online which is much less intimidating than someone belching out fiery hallelujahs in your face. Eventually it won’t affect you and you’ll learn that the sort of people who write the most vitriolic responses are not people you’d have in your life in any fashion anyhow.
Step Five: You should have the cojones now. You don’t have to introduce yourself to people by saying, “Hello. My name is Kate Holden and I’m an atheist. What now, punk?” but if the subject is being discussed you should have no shame in sharing your world views. I’ll admit that at my last job I used the term ‘not religious’ as I worked with highly religious people in a small conservative bible-belt town and felt my job would be in jeopardy if I came out to them. That’s pretty much the exception, though.
Step Six: Remember that you’re not alone. Participating in meet-up groups and forums will help you feel like you’re a part of something, especially if you live in an area of the world where being an atheist is particularly bad for your social status. And if all else fails, come out to me. I’ll accept you.