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 Shannon on December 16, 2010 at 9:11pm

CDB- I know how you feel.  I also felt the thread that held my theism together just snapped one day.  I have not been able to be a theist since.  It leaves an empty spot that you never noticed before and that most people continue not to see.

Comment by Shannon on December 16, 2010 at 8:58pm

Mr Armstrong.  You were able to come out as an athiest at 7.  Good.  It's not others opinions of me that keep me from comming out so much as how much coming out will cost me, my extended family, and my children. Im very open and active in other issues realted to individual and civil rights. I have no obligation to come out.  The cost outweigh the benefits.  That doesn't mean it's always easy.  If you haven't been on the receiving end of discrimination for being an athiest then you may have a life circumscribed by other factors.  I don't feel Im pretending so much as just not participating in the argument.  In most things I do speak out.

Comment by Philip Jackson Armstrong on December 16, 2010 at 5:47pm

I have a hard time understanding the fear and staying under the radar so to speak that so many people do. I kinda came out at 7 years old. You are letting what they think about you, define you. You already have convinced yourself, that if you tell them, you will need go to bed at night, with someone not approving of your beliefs, keep you awake. It is difficult to explain but when you view yourself through other people eyes and not your own you are hurting your self. Your are what you are. Why spend your life pretending. Tell them and if they don't approve... .!. It is your life, why should live a lesser life just not to hurt someones feelings.

Comment by Maverick Jester on December 13, 2010 at 10:45pm

Shannon, I am in a similar position so I sympathize. I think that you have to do what is best for your family. You have young kids and you need to protect them before anything else.


By the way, we have the same number of kids. My oldest two are older then yours.(ages 21,18, 14 and 12.)

Comment by It's just Matt on December 13, 2010 at 12:56pm

You may be surprised at the amount of support and lack of disdain you receive when informing others of your unbelief, at least I was. 

Maybe I was just one of the lucky ones.


My mother has always told me to be who I feel I needed to be one.

My wife became agnostic and then following me became atheistic.

My co-workers don't mind and during the summer I had such a compassionate Christian co-worker she apologized for blessing me after I sneezed! 


I've told Mormons and Mennonites, they are confused to say the least, but never hostile.


I would feel horrible if I had to hide who I was, I am thrilled to live in a natural universe that permits living organisms such as myself.


I would wade in the waters the best you can and ensure your children are never afraid to ask questions.

Comment by Earther on December 13, 2010 at 12:42pm

You have a compelling story.  My advice is to never say never.  You must think of your being an atheist as a civil rights issue.  You are correct to not endanger yourself or others.  When you are behind the preverbial "enemy" lines you don't yell "come and get me".  When your hear the train coming get off the tracks.  Pick your battles. etc.   I reccomend continue to blog and respond here to get a perspective of being an atheist in the world today.  I think in your case you may benifit from a private counselor to get some support in dealing with the emotional issues of being "alone".  Good luck finding an atheist counselor though, not that it has to be but I bet it would help.  I would also write down a journal of things that you could do to help your own situation.  For example, some people make pros and cons list of things that could happen if you did - blank - .  Journals can help you organize your thought, days, strategy and much more.  Try painting or drawing, make art about your feelings.  Ask your self, "What if I had a support group around me who would not attack me if they new about my atheism".  Then ask yourself, "Can I achieve that for myself in some way or form".  Many in complex situations like your own can only perceive doom and gloom if you did this or that.  Take it slow and think through your decision on how to better handle your feelings of how your day went.  Even here at this similar minded website, we are all different.

Comment by Shannon on December 13, 2010 at 12:30pm

My husband does not know I'm an Athiest. Like you and your mom- he knows I hate organized religion, and with my backgroud would expect it, but I really don't think he knows.  Having quit going to church with a small group of admittedly wonderful people- I think he believes that I quit because of panic attacks.  I cannot stress the "here's your coolaid" history I had as a child.  We are essentially raising the children but not very married or close friends anymore.


It's so very nice that some people understand my issues with this.  I was expecting more grief.  I just need to get all of this off my chest. 

Comment by Blueaussi on December 13, 2010 at 8:46am
Does your husband know you're an atheist?

I'm not really out, but not really in, either. Those who know me know that I'm an atheist, but I rarely make an issue of it unless I'm pushed. The notable exception to that is my mother. She knows that I have rejected organized religion, but she does not know how far my rejection goes.

I don't talk about it with her, not because she would reject me or get angry or anything; but because it would hurt her. Our lives are separate enough that I can usually skirt the issue with her. She's my mother, and I feel protective enough of her that I will stay "in" to her as long as I can do so without deeply compromising my beliefs.
Comment by Frankie Dapper on December 12, 2010 at 10:19pm

Shannon, It is not your duty to strive for the betterment of mankind at the cost of your family. You have to protect them first. Opportunities may present themselves to come out as an alien among earth creatures.

If not at least you have given your children the shot at free thinking.



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