I work at a Christian-based retail store. Occasionally, customers ask me if I go to church. I only say "no," volunteering as little information about myself as possible. Then I'm always invited to visit their church. I listen politely to the directions and service times. And smile as they walk away.

A few weeks ago, a co-worker asked if I was atheist and instead of telling the truth, I dodged the question. "Why would you ask ME that?" "Who told you that?" "Where did you hear that?"

I am ashamed. I ashamed of how much of a pussy I am. Why don't I just tell strangers that try to recruit me that I am an atheist and that I think going to their church would be the biggest waste of time. Why couldn't I tell my co-worker that I was an atheist? It would not have jeopardized my job. Some people there already know that I have no use for religion. It's not the first time that atheism and Jennifer have been linked.

Every time one of these situations happen I feel really bad. I am the reason why religious folk still come after non-believers like a lioness picking off the weak prey in the herd. That's me. The zebra or gazelle (or whatever lions eat) that can't stand up for itself.

My new goal is to "come out" to a complete stranger or more appropriately, to the next person to strike up a conversation with me about their god(s). It's good to have goals. It's even better to accomplish them.

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Comment by Luke on May 5, 2009 at 8:27am
You only have to please yourself. If you want ti to be private, keep it private. If you don't want the fight, don't take it on. I don't see that you are hurting anyone.
Comment by AcesLucky on May 5, 2009 at 5:24am
No. If you work in a Christian-based environment, I would simply keep such information to myself (if keeping your job is important). Admitting you are atheist, especially in such an environment where visitors or employees are prone to think you are inherently evil and deserve punishment, could also be an unnecessary risk there is no point in taking. It's not a matter of being ashamed; it's a matter of being safe and practical. Your religious affiliation at work is simply irrelevant.
Comment by BCarries17 on April 10, 2009 at 1:16am
....don't take that the wrong way...just be proud of who you are. I'm sure you realize they the religious people around you have no problem advertising how they feel...why should we feel as though our voices and opinions should be shelved around them? Good luck in getting out of the closet....I'm just busting out myself.
Comment by BCarries17 on April 10, 2009 at 1:14am
Definitely come out! I know that feeling you are speaking of...I'm just getting to that point where I just don't care if people like it or not. I keep thinking to myself "why should I feel shame?" Yes, it ain't easy in the dirty south; in an city where there's a church on every other block; where Catholicism is so strong (even in the black communities) that people stair me down for eating meat during lent. But I'm tired of putting up a front and you should be too!
Comment by Khemisi on February 10, 2009 at 1:38am
I feel your pain. Especially here in "The South", "The Bible Belt", coming out may be detrimental to your bottomline, your JOB. On the other hand it is time enough that non-believers take a unified stand against their religious bullying. In the end it is your decision that matters most. Just know that your are not alone. Find strength in that.
Comment by Ralph Dumain on February 9, 2009 at 8:39pm
I'm a firm believer in silence, stealth or duplicity if it is necessary for survival. Protection of one's privacy may be a bigger and more realistic priority than "coming out". One does have to have an outlet for one's frustration, yes, but there may be alternative ways of letting off steam. The first order to business, rather than telling people what you really think, is to get them to mind their own business. People have to be taught how to treat you.
Comment by Drew on February 1, 2009 at 10:11pm
Good luck Jennifer. Do it! You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are ensuring the next person that person meets who is an atheist will not encounter the same level of animosity that you do. If we all did it, every day, within a few years every theist would have met several atheists, and the animus would decrease greatly.
Comment by River Otter on February 1, 2009 at 10:03pm
If your job isn't going to be lost, go for it! You are in a great position to say it. The truth will set you free.

I am not as lucky as you at work. I work for a family of Mormons and wouldn't dare for fear of a job loss or discrimination. I wished I could though, I would have loads of fun debating them.

Good luck. :)
Comment by Moonbeam on February 1, 2009 at 9:29pm
Don't be ashamed. It's a work in progress, you'll get there. Just remember who has reason and logic on their side, and who believes in the adult equivalent of Santa Claus. It might help to keep a few of the more repulsive aspects of the bible in mind, such as condoning slavery, stoning, etc. It must be hard to work in that environment. It's a good opportunity to slip in a few comments that might make the god-boys and girls think about it a little, once you reach that point. Good luck.
Comment by Deborah on February 1, 2009 at 9:17pm
I wouldn't say you are cowardly, just cautious. Difficult not to be in a country like this with all the Christian bigotry. I think setting a goal for yourself was a wise thing to do, and good luck with the outcome. Besides, don't theists have a corner on the market where shame is concerned? They were all born in evil.

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