Why friendly atheists are important

I realized this while making friends in the chatroom - I've never made friends with another atheist before. I have several nonbelieving friends, including one outspoken atheist, but she and I aren't friends because of atheism. We're friends because of RPGs, and I learned about her worldview well after the fact.

In fact, even while she was discussing being an atheist, in her living room with three dogs, four cats, and our spouses, I didn't tell her I was, too. I couldn't relate to the term 'atheist' at all. I'd been going godless for years, but I couldn't quite be an atheist.

And I think it was because I didn't find atheists approachable. Or even secular humanists. I thought the SH's would be a warmer, gentler bunch. But I joined a SH community once, a few years back, and they were neither warm nor gentle. They filled the list with posts ridiculing religion, and that seemed to be their only mean of communication. Some of their mockery was poor and cringeworthy, probably because each participant felt he/she had to come up with something anti-religious in order to post.

I grew up Catholic, so I'm not saying religion is completely irrelevant to me, but it's been a long time since religion was a significant factor in my life. I'm not an atheist because I hate religion. I didn't give up on the Catholic church because it is bad. I left before I knew it was bad; before pedophile priests and Old Boys behavior became staples of the media.

I'm not here because I was rejecting something. I rejected the God mythos a long time ago, slowly, quietly, without drama or bad feelings. I'm here because I still need a sense of community; interpersonal contact. I need to know I can still make friends.

And not the kind of friends who thrive on dissing other people. I didn't even have that kind of friends among the Catholics. We were a very tolerant, non-hating group of Catholics, when I was younger. We were warm and friendly.

I know that not every Catholic is like that. But in my experience, friendly Catholics are easy to find. It helped if you believed exactly as they did, but it wasn't a requirement.

I just want something now that's not worse.

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Comment by G. Silva on August 1, 2010 at 11:43am
I don't mind that atheists are pissed at the nutters. I agree that activism against harmful religious craziness is important. But I see anti-religious activism and just atheists being companionable and friendly as two different things. I may watch the former in fascination and admiration, but I need the latter. I'm not personally angry about anything, and I'm lousy at being an activist or really getting into the activist spirit.
Comment by Lorien on July 31, 2010 at 9:07pm
We are all nice! But we can be pissed at the nutters. I support TheSaintsRevenge work and wish I could debate as he does. Religion has been getting a free pass for way too long.


And welcome to Atheist Nexus.
Comment by Jack Matirko on July 30, 2010 at 11:39pm
Yeah, it took me a while to seek out a community of atheists as well. Much like you, I wanted a sense of community. That's a very weird thing with atheists. One of my friends once suggested we go to a meet-up and I couldn't get my head around it. I said something like "getting together with people based on our atheism is like joining a club to talk about how much we don't watch quiddich."

Now though, I really I kind of get it. I mean we all probably have some friends who are religious. And when they have questions about the social ins and outs of having us for friends there's a support network there. They can talk to a priest, or a deacon, or rabbi, or imam, what have you. We just kind of have to figure it out, and that's hard without people to talk to who understand where you're coming from. That's why I think having a little non-theist community time is a good thing.

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