Hi there! My name is Beth (Elizabeth is just my legal name). I'm currently 21 years old and I'm from a little town called Whiteville, North Carolina. A few years ago, I lived in Greensboro where I attended UNC-Greensboro and heard of what was to be my first (and only thus far) atheist community (UNC-G Atheists, Agnostics, and Skeptics). But alas, I was only there for a year. So now, I plan on starting school this fall at UNC-Asheville. Where, unfortunately, there is no such group. But I'm not going to let that stand in my way. I've already started taking the necessary steps to make an on-campus secular group there. =D So if anyone has any pointers, I'm listening. LoL.. Well anyway. I'm here because I'm so tired of being 1 of only 3 atheists I know in my area. Which is saying a lot because even though I do live in such a small place, I know hundreds of people from working at Walmart Pharmacy for a year. It was there that my spirit was almost broken. All the people saying "god bless" or "you have a blessed day" made me so uncomfortable. Mainly because it was hard for me to think up a reply that didn't sound condescending to them and saying "you too" just left a bad taste in my mouth. Plus it didn't help that some of my co-workers would say the same thing to the customers. But I knew there was no way I could say anything about it. Every single one of my co-workers were devout Christians, even my boss. But that's the way it is with everyone around here. Sometimes I don't know which is worse, outing myself as an atheist to people that I know are going to bash me for it, or trying to blend in with all the infamy. So far, I'm out to almost everyone, the only exceptions are my previous co-workers and my grandmother. But of course, it doesn't help any around here though. I'm still lonely. Even my boyfriend is a "Christian". I put it in quotations because he seems a lot more deistic to me. Anywho.. Thanks for listening to me rant. I'm so happy to find this wonderful only community. I needed it. =)

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Hello Beth and Welcome.  The Secular Student Alliance (link below) is the organization to contact in helping set up your on-campus secular group.  Again welcome and good luck.

http://www.secularstudents.org/

Welcome Beth. You are in a tough spot, but with your positive outlook, I'm sure you'll do fine and you might even make a difference there!  Best wishes.

I battled with "appropriate responses" before, and the best I've come up with is; "take care". I feel that it implies a certain amount of compassion without resorting to anything biblical.

I know how it can grate to hear saying godly sayings around you, but try to think of it more as a limitation of their vocabulary, with their intention being to be friendly. They don't know any better phrases. ;-)

Take care. :-D

"Take care" and "You too" were what I always resorted to. I like your advice, though. XD

Hi Beth!  Glad you found us here on AN.  Vent anytime, we understand!  My daughter goes to college and she hasn't had to find any particular secular group, she has just met a lot of people and has found quite a few of them to be Atheists like she is!  Maybe college students are more liberal?  I don't know, but we live in Illinois, which isn't exactly liberal, but it's not the south either. ~Melinda

Hi Beth! The Humanist Community Project also guides people in setting up freethinking groups ...

http://harvardhumanist.org/2011/11/29/the-humanist-community-projec...

"The Humanist Community Project Blog is a collaborative effort to provide advice and resources to build, grow and improve freethinking communities..."

As for living in a religious community, I wouldn't rock the boat too much. I would just think of the "god bless" chat as a cultural thing more so than religious. I'd have no problem saying "god bless you" if needed. But that's easy for me to say because we are relatively non-religious here in Australia. Good luck.

Thanks, Michael. It's fine now that I don't work there anymore. But I always managed a "You too!" a lot easier than anything else. Still bothered me, though.

And thank you for the link. I had already contacted SSA like John spoke of, so I was just asking for any other resources that may be helpful. I really appreciate it. =D

Long live cute (if that's actually a real person; story seems genuine) freethinker gals!
Right on! Welcome to the future of the freeworld! ; )
cya'paz!

www.facebook.com/twizzy3

I'm real. LoL

And thank you. It's just wonderful to be accepted somewhere. =)

I'm late on the uptake as usual but I wanted to welcome you to A|N! I'm a fellow Tarheel, I even know 'where' Whiteville is! ;)  I had some friends down that way many years ago, Creech's and MacDaniel's from over in E-town and Bladenboro, they had family in Whiteville too as I remember.You are literally from a hotbed of fundamentalism down there lady! Good to see you here and I hope you find some like minds in Asheville, if memory serves there was a group on Meet-up that called Asheville home and it's far more progressive there even though the Graham compound/library/crap is there and it's beautiful enough to help distract you from the stupid!

Nah, you're not too late. =]

Well how about that... I don't feel TOO awfully stranded now that I know someone knows where to start looking for the body if I end up missing. XD And isn't it though? =( I went to Greensboro for school for a year and got a wonderful taste of liberty and secularism. This place was even worse when I got back. X_X

But yes, I can't wait to head to Asheville. They do have a group. =) I'm looking forward to joining theirs even if I can't start my own at UNCA. Either way I win. ^_^

So thank you, Tammy. =D How do you manage around here?

Well I'm in the area they call the 'heart', that little county named for, you guessed it, General Lee!... woohoo ya'll! anyhooo.. I wouldn't call it the 'heart' of anything, the 'armpit' maybe, more likened in all honesty to the 'toejam', I was going to assert that it's around the elbow and south of the armpit, but I'm trying to maintain decorum!

So how to manage here in good ol' Sanford town? You just exist as best you can resisting the urge to snap the necks of the neighbors, I don't rightly think one can 'co-exist' peacefully with these people as an out atheist, we're very bronze-age chic round these here parts!

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