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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

 It's not an easy time to be an atheist

I uncovered a good read about being a nonbeliever in America:
"We are among the most hated groups in America," says David Silverman, national spokesman for American Atheists. "Jews are OK, but if you're an atheist, you're at the bottom of the barrel, and it's politically acceptable to hate us. USA Today put the number of nonreligious Americans at 30 million," he says. "There are 5 million Americans who are Jewish, but everybody knows a lot more Jews than they know atheists, and why? Because atheists are afraid to come out of the proverbial closet. All of us know more atheists than we think, because they're in every family and they're in every church."...

What is it like to be atheist in America?

"It's like being gay in the South," says [NC teacher of psychology Jason] McCoy. "No matter who you're around, if you say something that gives the impression their religion isn't better than every other religion, well, you're walking on eggshells."

In the way that many gays camouflage their sexuality, many atheists are reluctant to confide their ideology to family and friends, and when they do, they refer to it as "coming out."

Like many gays, my atheism is "out" to my family and closest friends, but not to my work associates or others in the community. I have also hidden it from my children, who we are raising as liberal Catholics with highly critical minds (a story for another time).

If you can relate to this article, please leave some comments about your own personal experiences.


Blogger Angie said...

Perhaps its due to where I live, but there are many atheists here, and we are not afraid to say so. My family, friends, co-workers, all know. It is no secret. But as I mentioned, perhaps it's due to location. The Bay Area is known for accepting others as they are. Not what you wish them to be.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I teach at a liberal Catholic college and a good number of my colleagues know and don't care. My students are often shocked if the subject comes up in a class--I will say so if asked directly, but don't try to intentionally shock them. My husband and children (grown) are atheists, but pretty much stay in the closet. We don't discuss it with other family members or neighbors.

I have had students assert that atheists must be amoral because "where would they get their morals if not from religion?" A discussion of existential responsibility generally ensues. It's funny how most religionists think that humans couldn't have figured out that killing people can come back to bite you without some supernatural being carving it on a rock.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Nanovirus said...

BARBARA: I completely agree. "Do unto others..." is at its root a humanist value. We are better off as a species not killing and stealing from each other regardless of whether there is a big guy in the sky.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Dave S. said...

Jesus still loves you, even if you are an atheist.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Electro said...

I am curious why you chose the Catholic church as a place to raise your children atheist?

10:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say I'm an indifferentist as I don't care enough about religion to be an atheist... Seriously, I've known "atheists" who just keep going on & on & on about the wonders of their "atheism" like it was some kind of religion or something. Me, I'm quiet about it, when they pray in public I don't bow or close my eyes, there are no religious items in my home, proselyting xtians get the door slammed in their faces, at xmas last year I made a point of "happy holidays" et al. Until the next inquisition comes it's more "don't ask, don't tell" but that works ok for me as I do not care what someone else wants to believe as long as they don't expect me to pay for it, listen to it or participate.
And FWIW, I've been a tolerant man my 48 years but these days I've started to really dislike evangelicals and to bait them whenever I can get away with it...

3:17 PM  

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