Given how obsessed people in Mississippi are with Christianity, being an atheist here is very isolating and difficult. Add to that the fact that I'm Black AND non-heterosexual, and we're talking SOCIAL SUICIDE. The Christian church is like a deadly drug to Black people here, yet being amidst believers-- for me-- is like being the only sober person in a room full of people who are stoned out their minds and thus delusional and convinced that the problem is ME. I work at one of the HBCUs here, and I'm closeted about my atheism because I know there would be hell to pay (pun intended) if people knew.
But for me, hiding it in the workplace is easy. It was keeping it from my mother that was torturous. She's an evangelical, radical-type Christian minister, so my worst fear was that she'd disown me. But I decided that, by not telling her, I wasn't actually in a real relationship with her; she was, in essence, talking to a stranger, and I got sick of that-- of being fake, just to satisfy her. So, I told her in November. She didn't disown me, but she's made it painfully clear that he HATES it, and our relationship hasn't been the same. Nevertheless, telling her was a load off and I'm very glad I did. I know she'll never listen to or understand my POV about it, but at least she didn't shut me out.
I'm certain that there are more atheists in Mississippi than what's represented on the Internet, but most of us are closeted because there are often negative consequences of being "out" about it. It makes me so angry that we can't be true to ourselves without risking our peace and relationships, and in some cases our jobs/livelihood. But what can we do considering how out-numbered we are?
Being an atheist in Mississippi is probably worse than being gay. And considering I'm not exactly straight myself, being an athiest for me... is a nightmare. If only I could get away...