I grew up in an open-minded family. My parents dragged us to church every Sunday, but did this out of guilt. When I was 12 years old I rebelled and refused to go again. I denied the existence of god and confounded my parents with the MANY flaws in the bible. Yet, they still respected my views. When my brother was in high school he "found" god and became a "born again Rambo." He is now a methodist minister and oh so miserable.
When my brother converted he drove my parents crazy. When my open-minded father found out he had stomach cancer, he too found god and turned on me. He died trying to "bring me to jesus." For me, that was the most painful part of my father's death. It was both amazing and depressing to watch a man like my father go from open mind--willing to see other points of view--to intolerable fundamentalist bullshit. I would love to blame my brother, but I cannot. He is too steeped in the same bullshit and is miserable.
The sad thing about it all is that I have not changed my position since I was 12. I am now 55. Suddenly, I am evil! I never gave my atheism any thought until just recently. The political environment has made atheists a convenient target. Even some of my more liberal friends have advised me not to advertise my atheism. I never did! If someone asked, I would tell them. Now I skirt the issue. I find it easier to tell those who question that I was "born and raised in the methodist church." It is a true statement and usually satisfies them. Am I in the closet? I have never hid my atheism, but now I retreat to the closet at times because suddenly I am not a "good person" and condemned to a fiery place.
Our current political climate has made people like us think about the closet. I am not a big Obama fan, but I voted for him because the republican alternatives were abhorrent. I am hoping that the re-election of "Bronco Bama" will usher in a renewed enthusiasm for science and reason. It seems as though--hopefully--the fundamentalist idiots are digging their own hole in the ground. They have become a joke of themselves.
Coming out is a lot like quitting smoking, alcohol, or other drug abuse. It's uncomfortable for a short while but becomes quite liberating with time. You will very likely kick yourself for not doing it sooner. You are you...not your religion.
Big thanks to all of you for commenting since I posted this. I have enjoyed reading your stories and and love seeing new responses in my inbox.
We are growing in numbers so fast, especially in the younger generation, that we won't even need these people. I myself do perfectly well socially spending almost all my time with humanists and skeptics.
Why should you have to “come out of the closet”? Religionists should be the ones ashamed of their whacky beliefs like Eve was created from Adam’s rib, or God created you knowing you were going to hell but still loves you.
There're Baptist reform schools that have closets called “The get-straight room,” where they imprison kids for hours for minor infractions like saying something the elder didn’t like. These are the people who should come out of the closet.
I left my church community and religious dogma because the only help they offered was for me to submit and obey, both of which were not only sick but also just plain evil things to say to a family living under violent parenting rule. "Spare the rod..." and "yield to authority" are damaging to spirit and body and mind for growing children. Dobson's imperatives only added rationale for cruel, brutish behaviors.
Running away from such conditions was the only option I could find. My religious community assured me that I would burn in hell and my flesh would be replaced to burn for eternity. I was terrified. I had no idea what I would do to restore sanity to my little family because my parents were violent to each other and to me. I learned from the crib how to be violent to gain compliance. I did not learn care, compassion, or communication skills.
My former employer guided me to a program at Whitworth University that focused on democratic principles in business and empowering all members of a team to work together using skills of problem solving, conflict resolution, thinking in the future tense to create preferable goals. I learned how to identify unmet needs and processes to get basic needs met. They taught me how to look for resources, and to anticipate trouble areas. Great emphasis was learning how to assert oneself and how to active listen; identifying "stinkin' thinkin'" and being aware of self-delusions. We had to develop action plans and then do some project that involved long-standing unresolved problems and develop strategies to overcome differences. Evaluation provided a way to test if we knew whether we were on or off track; if we wanted to change directions or do more or less or continue "off course" because it was a better solution. The project was judged "Passed" if problems and conflicts were resolved for the organization.
My three children and I used these processes from 1979 until they were grown and had families of their own. My daughter and her husband in Spokane and son and his wife in Denver took a similar course and as their children get to about school age, they learn these skills in a children's version.
The net result is that each family unit and our combined families all know and use excellent interpersonal skills. We enjoy life, even as we honor each individual and participate in contributing to the benefit of the entire family. Our family functions as a motivated team.
The program my children and grandchildren are taking and my great-grandchildren will take is through Landmark Education.
Pretty much everyone knows that I am an atheist, including my professors at school. So yeah, I'm pretty "out."
I am out and have been for some time. I am 63 years old, and I don't give a damn what anyone thinks about my atheism. Most of my family is well aware of it. No one tries to "bring me back into the fold", as it were. I have learned vastly more about different religions, Christianity in particular, than I ever knew when I was still Roman Catholic. (subject for it's own thread that). Being out has not cost me any friends or family so far.
I have actually read the entire Bible since de-converting. Something I had never done as a Catholic. The RCC didn't encourage Bible reading when I was a child in Catholic School. They were probably afraid of all the questions they wouldn't be able to answer without resorting to brute authority.
Here in England, Atheism seems to be so prevalent that the 'coming out' thing doesn't seem to be an issue, or even a requirement. If you announce to someone here that you are an atheist, it is not viewed as unusual at all, and often the response is a shrug of the shoulders, or indifference. At secondary school, quite a lot of my friends, like me, just sort of agreed that religion was made up, and the ones I am still in contact with appear to have maintained their stance. Where I work, I would say that at least a third of us are atheists, from what discussions we have had over the years. I do realise that I am incredibly lucky to live where I do, and sympathise greatly with Atheists in the U.S. 'bible belt' and Middle Eastern countries, where a 'coming out' thing is probably a very daunting neccessity.
lucky! home of Dawkins. I'd be stoked.
To be fair, there are a lot of Catholics in England, many of Irish ancestry. Some of them have told me that the rejection of a faith which was forced on them did involve a sort of coming out process, which provoked the disapproval of their parents. But also, I have encountered several Irish people who state very openly their distaste for their erstwhile religion, and state quite clearly that they are glad to be free from it.
I am told that their are some areas of the US, for instance Seattle or New York, where a statement of atheism would meet with similar acceptance as it does in the UK.
depends on your surrounding psychotic level fundamentalists..
do they even exist? ; )
basically car insurance.. yeah yeah.. sad right? I'm more worried about my car getting damaged by terrorist kids (girl) believe it or not.. once you put sticker on car saying anything 'god' or greydonsquare etc..
they freak! like you're in some xtians only country or some lie... ha..
never forget that day she said '..burn your car' really? wow such loving parents you have..
all i had to come back w/was "..you realize the xtians that enslaved black people were white right?"
dead silence. that's how you come out folks. fck a book burning torch them with lyrics!
all local meetups ususally on meetup.com
or just get w/American Ahtheists... ?
FFRF!? ~ righwingwatch.org.. cya
I'm like you. I'm semi in the closet. I'm open about my atheism on the internet and even have a Google blog on atheism under my own name, but I live in TN (Republican and Christian Central in other words), which is kind of intimidating. Everyone I interact with here in TN is either a Christian or Christian minded. I just learned that Knoxville TN (I only live like 40 miles from there) is the number 1 bible minded city in America.