I'm curious about a few things. Please feel free to ignore my questions as the answers may be personal and none of my business.
What were you attempting to accomplish with the activism you engaged in?
Was your disengagement for personal reasons or did you feel you'd done enough, passing the baton so to speak?
Has your thinking somehow changed regarding what you consider worthwhile goals for atheists?
My activities were aimed at encouraging atheists to come out of the closet. I was also working with local members of American Atheists on various projects aimed at publically promoting atheism and church/state separation.
My disengagement was due to two reasons. Firstly, by the end of the 1980's American Atheists was being grossly mismanaged by Madalyn Murray-O'Hair and her son Jon. Membership was plummeting and entire chapters were seceding. Secondly, there was no other atheist group within reasonable traveling distance of my home after I had left American Atheists. It also became too expensive for me to attend national atheist conventions.
My thinking hasn't changed regarding what I would consider to be worthwhile goals for atheists, I simply no longer have the funds or the vigor of youth to personally pursue them.
Thank you for sharing that. My interest is primarily the church/state issue so I certainly appreciate your efforts.
I guess I don't know many other openly atheist people. That's some surprise to talk with one involved going back to the the Madalyn Murray-O'Hair era. All I have is my own perceptions. No denying she made atheists visible but I can't say she did it in a way that made us popular. That might not have been all her fault though as I don't think anyone thought atheists were interesting, cool or trendy at that time. I think we're more popular than mass murderers these days so that's showing some improvement.
I hope you've found other interesting things to keep you interested.
I am out to very few people only because of my current employment situation. Sadly, my training, skills, and gifts do not translate easily into the "real" world, and because I do not have particular letters after my name, no one will look at my resume. So I'm trapped and stuck....not a very nice place to be in. It was, in retrospect, much easier to come out of the gay closet - at least there were supports in society-at-large, or more of them anyway.
If people aren't in my face about religion, I don't go out of my way to confront them. My whole family knows where I stand. None of them has given their religion (Judaism lite) any thought at all, and they sure don't want to argue with me. At a recent family gathering, many speakers thanked God for their good fortune. Yech. I kept quiet.
I will soon be required to put my views into practice. Mom is 96. When she dies, I will attend her funeral but will not dress up (no skullcap or prayer shawl) or pray or -- and this is required -- say Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, which endlessly glorifies God. Even when God takes your loved one, you kiss his ass. Not gonna do that. They may not want me in their little holy house.
Never let people get away with with the stupid idea that an atheist cannot be a good, moral person.
I'm not out as an atheist with too many people for a couple reasons. First, I've learned the hard way that religious people have no problem with discriminating and holding their religious views over others if given the chance. Secondly, as someone who is affiliated with and surrounded by many libertarians (with a Congregational background), I've seen these folks have no issue ousting someone for their atheistic viewpoints (despite how accepting libertarians might lead you to believe they are, or how liberal Congregationalists might say they are).
As an example of the former, I've come dangerously close to losing my (successful) business partnership because my partner (a very religious guy) has had no issue with holding my atheism over my head when push came to shove. Unfortunately, being a minority (49%) owner, there isn't much I can do about it. All the same, I was shocked by his willingness to 'go there' without any hesitation.
And as an example of the latter, I've witnessed more than a few families & individuals essentially shunned from my kids' libertarian-philosophy private school because they've gone 'too far' with their atheistic viewpoints. It seems to them that it is perfectly acceptable to be libertarian, but somehow too much once you've taken the (to me) logical jump to anarcho-capitalism & atheism.
In my life to date, it seems that the public still has a lot of misconceptions and fear about atheism. As an example, I'm fairly certain that some of our business clients would not do business with us if they knew that I was an atheist as a partner. I don't think people largely understand the word, and much less so are willing to have challenging philosophical discourse. I'm hopeful, after finding communities like this one, that we're on the right track. But for now, I'll stay closeted about it for the most part.
Sounds like a well thought out decision, and for very rational reasons. We don't need to give believers the weapon with which to harm us.
I am puzzled why people who believe in the Abrahamic god see only the principle of "love" in both old and new testament. Even Je-sus is reported to have killed a tree because it was not the season to give him a nice fresh snack; seems pretty sophomoric to me. Or killing someone else's pigs; that is downright brash. When you get to the walking on water stuff and turning water into wine, and feeding a crowd with just a little bit of food simply makes no sense. Except, they call it "miracles"; Balderdash! Just pure, unadulterated gibberish.
Want to see real miracles? just find any science documentary, or the DNA Mysteries - Search For Adam - National Geographic, Cosmos, FIRST LIFE - Arrival - Full Documentary . These are actual miracles, no delusions here.
I am short and sweet, I do not believe in ANYTHING that resides in some supernatural B.S. realm. I also like to say that I am non-theist. I hate labels because I also want to be accepted. I have never been asked what my religious beliefs are. Start preaching to me and you will find out!
I am partially to mostly in the closet. My wife knows and most of our closest friends know. I certainly don't shy away from criticizing religion in most circumstances. Even some coworkers know. I have always been a man of science, and I dropped most of the religious charade over the last few years.
Most of the family does not know. (If they do, they say nothing... but my family is sort of known for denial so I doubt they'll put two and two together). My grandparents are getting up there in age, it is important to them, and they will not change. It's important to my parents as well, and I have avoided telling them because it is easier. I don't want to be the target of conversion attempts from my family. Part of me fears that they'll be more pushy to my little boy and I don't want that for him. Then again, my wife made the point this afternoon that if I am not open with them, our boy will start talking soon anyway and that we should be firm now about not indoctrinating him.
Beyond my family, I fear losing political power and economic opportunities. Most of my friends either don't care or agree with me already so I guess that's fairly moot. I just don't want to deal with the general branding associated with atheism in the MidWest.
It's not a matter of if, but when everything comes out. I'm not a big fan of lying, and I feel resentful that the way many religious people act strongly encourages that here. I think that there are more of us than we realize, but even so I am terrified to be completely open with everyone in my family about it. Which, I recognize, is yet more religious tyranny.
Hi Dan....I am impressed that you opened up to something so personal....I can relate to your story.....It is so true that we are afraid to hurt or disappoint our family with changes to our religious or non religious preferences....By the time I realized I was in denial and did not believe in all that miraculous crap fed to us over the years, my parents had passed away..So with me, my problem was with telling my brother , who was married to a religious theist, who took all the rituals seriously....As a result I kept it to myself....I live in a conservative state so the last thing I want is to be ostracized so I don't mention my Atheism....Finding forums like A/N makes it easier to communicate anonymously with like minded people where we can discuss Atheism freely...I look forward to the day when it will not matter what someone believes or doesn't believe. That we all are true Rational Thinkers who take responsibility for our own destiny.....After reading so many responses here, I feel I am gaining my confidence so that I will be proud to tell anyone that I am an Atheist....