Becoming more vocal about my atheism has had an affect on many of my relationships. 

What I'm beginning to see is how the devoutly religious people categorize the non believers.  The box they seem to try to put us in is "evil" or that we are now the "devil."

This is such an ignorant approach but it requires "us" to be even more patient with the religious.  To me, patience, love, and understanding is the only way we can begin to show them how we can live good and loving lives without religion. 

A person doesn't need to believe in a god or gods to have love in their lives. 

Have you gained or lost friends and/or relationships because of your atheism? 

I would say, in raw numbers of relationships, that I've lost more than I've gained.  But the quality of my relationships has improved. 

What about you? 

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For quite awhile now I have thought it astonishing that more people have not, as you say, become enlightened to the fallacy of religion. Perhaps what it really boils down to is that the majority of people really want to stay "in the norm." And, in this country, the "norm" is to practice some form of religion. That means people remain in the group which is their comfort zone. That part of their life is now in a box and they can put it on a shelf and forget about it I guess.

If this premise is true, and it is more about being in the norm and groupthink, then I hope that maybe, just maybe, the web could turn out to be one of the greatest things to ever grace the planet. The group of people willing to come out with their Atheist views is growing every day as evidence by this site and many others. In fact, just the other day, even the national news was saying clearly almost 20 percent of US citizens practice no religion at all.

My hope is that as the Atheist group becomes large enough that it will become just another societal norm and be recognized by the larger population that this is ok. The far religious right will, of course, always try to call us the work of the devil. But, again, as the enlightenment continues it will become more and more acceptable because of the natural tendency of the human species to join.
I'm 74 years old and I don't have time to be patient, loving and understanding. I think religion is a curse and I want people to know how I feel. I don't want people in my life who judge me and I certainly don't want to listen to any more nonsense about some fiction being thanked when the doctors or nurses or janitors did all the work and received no thanks. Why be patient with nonsense? Why be loving when dominionism raises its ugly head? Why be understanding when there is only dislogic being spread?

I like my words that do not appear in the dictionary!
hear hear !!! You go Joan !!!!!!!!!!!!
My relationship with my husband has greatly improved since I embraced my atheism.

As a neo-pagan I was a deeply unhappy person. My beliefs and community ultimately fostered unhealthy attitudes in me, and were unable or unwilling to provide help when I needed it, leading ultimately to a spiritual crisis that only resolved itself once I accepted my atheism. I don't bear that community any ill feelings; my experience of it was very bad, but I won't deny the happiness it brought me when I first embraced it, or the joy of some of the people I met in that community. I learned a lot, but was ultimately unfulfilled in ways that really matter to me on a daily basis; I wanted to feel a connection with others and the world around me, I wanted to have a sense of where I had come from and where I might be going, I wanted to honor the past without being a slave to it. For a time, my neo-paganism satisfied those needs, but mysticism wasn't enough.

My husband grew up with an apathist father and a reform Jewish mother. His father had nothing to do with his Irish Catholic upbringing, so my husband's only experience of faith was of a very reform, American Judaism. Debate and skepticism were encouraged along with continual education, faith in a literal being called God was not the most important thing about being Jewish in their mind, and the Bible was never interpreted or presented to be literal truth--there was a strong focus on the celebration of family traditions and history, with a nice dose of the sort of argumentative style that only that family can pull off. In all of this, it's not surprising that my inattention abundant man decided probably none of it was true and computers were cooler anyway.

So, tree-hugging neo-pagan hippie girl meets computer hacking apathist raver boy. I had been struggling with my doubts for some time, but I refused to let them go for fear of changing and not being happy with the change. I was fascinated by the man I was quickly falling hopelessly in love with and appreciated that he expected me to be able to have reasons why I said and did the things I did. I began rejecting the ideas of my neo-paganism one by one. Magic was the first to go, then the afterlife, followed by structured ritual, then daily and eventually monthly observances. One by one, they went down, all because in conversation with my husband I had begun to realize that I had no good reason to engage in any of these activities. In fact, all of the reasons I could come up with, when I honestly looked at what I was doing, were hurting me in order to protect myself from the possibility of the imagined deeper hurt of a life without religion.

Eventually my neo-paganism was so in shambles it could hardly be called a life philosophy any longer. I lost faith in the divine. I saw my participation in neo-paganism as more of an art and philosophy than a religion, but could find very little support of this view among the community. Finally, a friend asked me what I could give to our practice. I had no answer. Absolutely none. I thought about it for a long time, but couldn't even suggest an answer or a way to find it.

The death of my faith was death by a thousand cuts, but it had to be done. The barrier it put between my husband and I made me unhappy. I came to see how ridiculous and selfish I had been acting. I didn't dwell on it, I simply admitted that I had been wrong. I refused to beat myself up over it any more because there was no good reason to do that either! I'm much happier since I embraced my atheism, and that has translated into better relationships with the people I care about most.
thanks for sharing your story... great stuff !!
the town i live in is very fundamentalist evangelical, baptist. the place that i work in is owned and operated by fervent born agains. i feel totally isolated. in previous workplaces i have had my life threatened for not loving jesus by and have been called pro terrorist by others. its a bit like east german redneck theocracy. i feel totally isolated and i keep my nontheism/ atheism very largely to myself. have i lost friends, yes. have i gained friends, no.
Alan, I urge you to contact the Boulder Atheists. Their next general meeting is on October 24th at the Boulder Public Library at 12:15. Check out their website here:
Friends that don't accept you for who you are aren't really friends are they?  Just remember there are a lot of us who are scientists and reasoned thinkers... maybe we need to begin a chain of coffee houses or something!
Two members of my immediate family are very religious.  I have no contact with them for now (my choice) because I just can't bear any more preaching or debate right now.  I am so glad that I found a sense of community and acceptance here.  *Corny group hug*
Yes, Atheism has cost me in relationships.  Not so much with existing relationships but it has an impact when I meet new people.  I recently went to a friends destination wedding and had an opportunity to meet some friends of his from another city.  During the course of conversation one of the friends brought up god.  At some point I responded that I'm an Atheist.  At that point I was "shun" by that subset of people.  The interesting dynamic for me was my friend, the groom does not believe in god either but he and others around the table were much more politically correct than I.  Their responses were more somewhat agnostic leaving the door open for some deity.  I went straight Atheist with a "god is just Santa Clause for adults" approach.  OK, I could have been more politically correct, but let's face it the religiously fervent usually aren't

Many of my family and friends are born again and when I am around them they try very hard not to bring up religion. Before the family gathers yearly for our reunions they warn each other not to talk religion. Very often, someone just cant stand the silence about the subject and asks me how I can have a moral core if I am an atheist. I just simply run down the list of nations that are at war based on differences in religion, or the crime of covering up misconduct by church leaders, or the hypocrisy of being silent in the face of domestic violence or giving the victim of violence the admonition to follow what I call, "The Passive Gospel," i.e. "yield, pray, obey, forgive, turn the other cheek, love him to the lord, crucify yourself daily and rejoice in your crucifixion."  I remind them the Passive Gospel is not only sick, psychologically, but stupid, legally, and disgusting theologically.  What if the victim had been admonished to use the "Active Gospel," i.e. no one has to submit to violence or be afraid in his/her own home, or put up with thuggish, bullying behavior from loved ones.   

Or other times, they ask about wagering if god were real ... I remind them this is the old bromide of Pascal's wager and it goes like this:

If you believe in God and God does exist, you will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven;

If you do not believe in God and God does exist, you will be condemned to burn for eternity;

If you believe in God and God does not exist, there is not a reward to receive;

If you do not believe in God and God does not exist, you have lived your own life. 


I further point out that if their god is a loving god then he/she/it is also a hypocrite, not worthy of acknowledgment. If I am good or bad it is because of what is inside of me, not because I desire to please some superstition born in the Bronze Age and used to exploit and manipulate those who produce the goods and services of a community.  

The odd thing is, every year someone asks me a religious question. I answer honestly and as clearly as I possibly can.   

My family does not accept it... It's hard for me since I'm an aspie and a god seems so absurd for me. Just asking,why would god make me in a way I can't believe in him,and then send me to hell for it? D:


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