Why I will never come out of the closet as an Atheist

It's cowardly I know, then again most people are cowards about most things. I will never come out as an Athiest. My two sons are scouts, my daughters best friend is a fundamentalist, and my boss is an Evangelical. Scouts have to believe in god as well as be heterosexual. My daughters friend would not be allowed to play with her if it was known that we are athiest. My boss would hound me mercilessly if he found out I didn't believe, first in an attempt to save me, and later in anger when I did not conform. I have seen this happen. Most difficult of all- my husband is religious.

My four children began to question god early on. The furious reaction that they encountered shut them up quickly. I came to them and told them that people were easily frightened when others questioned gods existence. They were young when they decided this, 9, 11, 12, and 7 yo when they started questioning. Im proud of them, but I also fear for them. Our society finds it easy to discriminate against athiest. The devil fearing, and effectively devil worshipping, public has amost no tolerance for the non-believer. I felt my children need to know what they are up against and that they need to pick their battles. One believes he is a homosexual (13 yo), and another is a staunch advocate for rationality and science. I know it's not good to hide the truth of oneself from the world, but we can't pretend that such honesty has no cost. We talk all the time about these things. My main message is- come out as an atheist when you are ready but be willing to face the consequences and pay the price. It's very difficult to live in such a narrow minded families. You can love them all you want but it is never enough to dispel their fear of your 'thought crime." The pain inflicted on both sides, the believers and the rationalist, would be immense and strain relationships. I have relatives who would worry incessantly about my children going to hell as much as I worry about their children not receiving modern medical care because of their belief systems. The crazy never ends. Im certainly glad it's more theirs than mine.

I know I will get a lot of flack for this blog. I accept your opinions. I also beieve that there is no one right answer to any common problem and that even the most rational of people make irrational decisions all the time. There is no area of my life that is not impacted by extreme christians. I went out of my way to allow my children another view of the world. I told them I would accept whatever they decided as their choice. How could I do otherwise with everyone else insisting that there was only one truth? I will not become an ass in response to asinine people. They know theirs is a bright and broad future for them with many many people who believe as they do although there doesn't seem to be many of them out there at the moment. For myself- I do not see a day where the benefits ever even remotely approach the cost of coming out as an Atheist.

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Comment by Joseph P on February 19, 2011 at 11:03am
Well, what I meant was that even the ones labeled militant by the theists (the folks on The Atheist Experience, Richard Dawkins, P.Z. Meyers) say that.  I see it wasn't entirely clear, as I reread my previous post.  I don't see anyone except a few wing-nuts on random message boards pushing for people to come out of the closet, if it will cause them harm in any way: physical, financial, or otherwise.  I mean certainly, you're going to lose a few friends and potentially alienate a few of your more devout family members, if you have any of those, but most people can deal with that.
Comment by Sean Asbury on February 18, 2011 at 1:43pm

Shannon - I felt very much the same way as you.


The best friends of mine and my wife are both very devout Christians.  When we came out, it was very hard on them.  My oldest friend actually confronted me asking how I could possibly be an atheist. 


Luckily for us, family is not as much of an issue. 


Responding to Joseph P.'s comment, I'm probably a borderline-militant atheist, in that I'm pro-standing up, standing out.  But I also agree that if your beliefs, or lack thereof more aptly, were to cause you financial or other problems, it's best to not e "militant" about it....

Comment by Joseph P on February 15, 2011 at 11:28pm

Certainly, I hear it from the 'militant' atheists all the time.  If you're able to come out of the closet, do so.  If it's going to hurt you financially, threaten you or your family, or damage your personal life more than you're willing to accept, then DON'T DO IT.


We can use more visible atheists, sure, but it's not worth causing yourself hardship over.  There are plenty of others to carry the banner.

Comment by Shannon on January 3, 2011 at 4:14pm
Fuad. Your pressures are certainly bigger than mine. All these extremist! If only they concentrated their efforts into helping others or solving problems- how much better would we all be. I look at all the churches in my are and think about how they are empty 6 days a week. Couldn't those buildings and that time be used for learning about something real? How about learning to accept others and not just adhere to dogma?

Living in the 'city of mosque' must be a challenge. You have some real cool architecture their- old and new . (ex. old parliamentary building.) Take care of yourself. You are in my thoughts.

We're thinking about your neighbors in Burma.
Comment by Susan Benfold on December 18, 2010 at 10:01am

Hi Shannon.  First of all welcome to the nexus.  I am not going to give you any flack.  I can understand your fear.  I work with religious people as well.  I just keep my mouth shut as I need a job and it is not worth the problems it would cause.   Luckily my boss is not too religious but I think he would be surprised that I do not share in his delusion.  I don't have any children but you need to protect them as much as you are able to and once they are adults and are able to see how other people may react to their views they will be able to make up their own minds if they want to believe in mythical beings still or grow up. 

It sounds like you are doing a good job. 

Good luck.  and keep sane.  Remember they are the ones who still believe in fairy tales.

Comment by Shannon on December 18, 2010 at 9:07am

Maverick Jester- OT comment.





Comment by Blueaussi on December 17, 2010 at 4:11pm
CDB...I most definitely meant it as humor!
Comment by Seabass on December 17, 2010 at 6:48am


I am definitely going to try the wind breaking thing....... I agree this would be less shocking to my folk.......ROFLMAO

thanks for the great visual and the humor even if you didn't mean it as such....

Comment by Seabass on December 17, 2010 at 6:41am


thanks......  yes I too have the "spot" and too would pay a  very very big price in probably all areas of my life if i "came out".....

I mean for most part it is a non issue as i haven't gone to church in years..... have no problem with social aspect of religious holidays. could care less if ten commandants are in the local city hall etc;

I just dont believe..... If others want to, so be it....

I feel most people in their heart of hearts question if their theism is true but cant come to terms with death being it....

this i think prevents more people declaring or even considering atheism.

In fact that is my biggest hang up with atheism if you want to call  it that..... No afterlife, no ever seeing my family ever again etc etc.

the other side of it is I think i savor my time with others much more so and dont have the false idea i can always "connect later"

Coming out would actually threaten what i consider to be the most valuable thing i have in this world, my relationships, family and otherwise. Not to mention the financial toll I would endure as  the "Village Atheist" in a sea of Theism......

Comment by Blueaussi on December 16, 2010 at 9:55pm
Philip, if you have never faced discrimination, count yourself very, very lucky. I understand Shanon's concerns all too well. Some of my neighbors and coworkers would be less shocked if I stood on a chair and rambunctiously broke wind at morning and afternoon breaks than if I announced I was an atheist.



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