You know how when you fall in love, you just want to tell everyone? To shout it from the rooftops? It's so exciting and fresh, and you want everyone to know. That's some of what I'm feeling right now. I stated in my "about me" section that I am a new atheist. It feels a lot like falling in love. I want to tell everyone! I want everyone to know what I've discovered so they can discover it too! But, exclaiming my realization that religion is a bunch of baloney won't garner the same response as professing my love for my husband. I've only told 3 people: my husband (of course), a friend of mine from work, and my sister. All of these people are very open-minded about religion. My husband views himself as an agnostic or, perhaps a deist. He believes there's a possibility of a higher power, but not one that interferes in our lives. He has a hard time grappling with the "what's it all for" question with no god in the picture. My sister is very much the same way. My friend from work calls herself a Christian, but doesn't really attend church and doesn't subscribe to any of the "give you heart to Jesus" stuff - she's not much of a Christian! Her response has been the most delightful, actually. When I first told her (it just came up in the conversation, oddly enough) she was really interested. She asked about what I believe and what I don't, and why, and how I got there, and how I respond to claims by the religious. It was a wonderfully stimulating and fulfilling conversation.
Aside from those 3 people, the only other "coming out" I've done (and I imagine it's a lot like coming out about your sexuality) is to change my religious views to Atheist on Facebook. I have several VERY Christian friends on Facebook and I haven't gotten a single comment. They probably aren't looking. It's frustrating because I want to tell people - my parents, all my friends, all my coworkers. But, that would most likely be detrimental to my friendships and my career. Most of my friends would be fine with it, and honestly, I'm not that worried about them knowing. If they don't want to associate with me based on my beliefs, then that's their loss. I'm most worried about my career. I'm an elementary school librarian and I love my job. I work at a wonderful school with an outstanding administration. I love my principal and assistant principal, but they're both pretty religious, as are most of the parents at our school. I'm afraid if word got out that I'm an atheist, I would somehow be forced out of that school. I'm afraid my performance reviews would arbitrarily go down and that parents would complain about me. It's very frustrating, especially because it's a public school and religion should have no place there! As librarian, I make sure that my collection is diverse and presents many view points. It's important to me that each child be able to see him or herself in the books we have. I have Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, but I also have C. S. Lewis' Narnia series. In the 200's, I have at least one book on every religion, except non-belief - it's very hard to find a nonfiction children's book about atheism, or any kind of non-belief. I certainly don't want to press my views on the students. But I'm afraid people would think that I do if they know I'm an atheist.
It's a double-edged sword, really. On the one hand, I'm bursting with excitement about my new-found freedom from superstition and I want to share it with the world. But, on the other hand, I'm scared of being discriminated against. I've never been in this position before. I want to be proud of who I am and not cower behind old beliefs. But I don't want to compromise my career and friendships. I suppose this feeling will fade, just as it does with new love, and I'll come to be more comfortable with it. I won't feel the need for everyone to know. But I never want to lie and if it is brought up, I intend to be truthful. As far as work goes, like I said before, religion doesn't belong there at all, and that includes my lack thereof. So, I'll try to control myself!
I just have to add that this post has not gone the way I intended at all. I was reading my "about me" paragraph and wanted to expand on my journey from believer to non-believer. I guess I'll have to save that for next time!