It's only been in the past year that I've started questioning religion. Now as an atheist I'm having hard time “coming out” I guess you could say. None of my immediate family members are religious and they share my views. My parents never pushed me or my brother one way or another, but let us come to our own conclusions. I feel like I'm surrounded by religious people. I don't want to offend them but I want to be able to freely express my beliefs like they do, but I'm afraid they (friends mainly) might view me differently or not want to be around me. I know that if they really care about me it shouldn't bother them. Also on occasion someone will say something about God or pray before they eat. I don't want to be rude or disrespectful so I just nod when they talk and bow my head when they pray. When I'm put in those situations where I could say something about my beliefs, what should I do? Sometimes I feel like screaming, “I don't believe in a god, there isn't one!” I feel like I can't be myself or be honest with people without fear of being treated differently. I guess I'm afraid of the potential backlash. Any advice would be very much appreciated, thanks for your time.

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Tabitha and The Nerd have given some good advice. When people pray (especially if it's before a meal at their house you were invited to), be polite, sit in silence, and let them talk to themselves. In situations like that, I generally try to remember what I left off my weekend shopping list. As to family, if they don't care, your on a downhill slide to easy street.

As to friends, if they're really your friends, they'll accept you for who you are. If the price of their friendship is an insistence that you abandoned a rational outlook in favor of their superstitions, my guess is they're not much of a friend in the first place. If you're in a situation where you could say something about your beliefs, then it's your call. If it will make things socially awkward, you might want to wait for another time (like at someone's hospital deathbed). On the other hand, if it's a "group think" situation, that is less stressful, where the groups expects you to agree, tell them they're nucking futs, and you're an atheist. And if they're true believers, don't worry about having to scream. They'll do it for you (personal experience). And, so what if they do. My general response is, "The volume of your voice is in direct, and inverse relation, to the strength of your argument."
lol I really love that last statement. It's totally true in most cases.

I agree with Pat.  True friends will accept you for who you are.  If they leave because of your Atheism -- they were not true friends. 

 

Welcome to atheism!  Potential backlash is always there for atheists.  You always have to weigh the consequences of coming out to someone.  80% of Americans are Christian, so you're always going to be surrounded by religious people.  That said, it's important that you feel comfortable in being who you are.  It sounds like you're dying to tell people, but the possible consequences are holding you back from being honest about yourself.  You may not be ready.  When being honest about your atheism weighs more for you than your fear of being found out, you'll make a natural transition.  There's no need to force it, it will happen when you're ready.  In the meantime, use Atheist Nexus for emotional support and companionship.  Good luck!
Sometimes it helps to know how to answer arguments from the religious.  I recommend reading to familiarize yourself with all the arguments.  "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins, and "Godless: How An Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists" by Dan Barker are two really good ones that you can probably find in a library.  Knowing that you have an answer for anything your friends might say might make you more confident about coming out to them.
Great advice, I will definitely do that.  Thank you so much. :)

I agree. It’s not worth coming out in the thick of a religious community until you have a good base understanding on how to dispute most of the views in a clear and concise manner. Until then, you could do what I use to do. Explain to them that if they wish to talk about the subject, they are welcome to sit down with you in front a computer, and you can look up their questions together. Much of my family use to HATE when I did that. Keep in mind, youtube is also a great resource to watch debates. Dawkins, Hitchens, The Atheist Experience and AronRa have some great videos, watch their reactions, how they keep the conversations from becoming endless. Its as much a skill to keep them from playing word games and disregarding your answers to throw more endless tripe onto the pile, as it is about facts.

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