I have been curious for a while about other Canadian atheists experience with simply being an atheist in Canada.

I have commented to others that where I live now and where I grew up it was remarkably easy to be an atheist in many ways.

I had several friends growing up who where theists and still are to this day probably, but my lack of religion was never an issue with them. Even today it isn't an issue within my current circle. Though I am among my friends the only out and admitted atheist and I have always been surprised by that. I have been curious for a while if my experiences in some ways were typical Canadian or if I escaped religion because of my upbringing.

So what say you?

Where you raised in a religious or non-religious house hold?

Was religion predominant in the community you grew up in?

Did it cause any issues growing up, if you were raised non-religious among your religious friends?

Have you ever been called out by someone about your stance on religion and belief?

Do you find it difficult to be an out atheist in Canada?

If you are not an out atheist, how come?

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Replies to This Discussion

In Quebec it was easy.

Catholic church had a stronghold on everything personal and cultural for centuries, but they were completely & thoroughly thrown out of public life. They lost all their influence starting in the sixties. People are still mostly soft-believers and will shy away from discussing their faith or my lack thereof. It doesn't seem religiosity takes a big place in peoples lives here.
I was raised agnostically (I THINK my father is an atheist but we've actually never discussed it. My mom is/was disaffected with Christianity but not particularly sceptical about other claims like ghosts, spirituality, etc.). My relatives occasionally did take me to Church and Sunday School, which was mostly boring and/or confusing as I had no idea what any of them were talking about. I was a deist as a child but when I was fourteen and actually sat down and thought about it, realized that God made more sense as a comforting delusion than as a reality.

My best friend when I was 9-14 was a devout (although not especially conservative) Mennonite. It wasn't a problem for us at that stage though it is probably part of the reason we drifted apart after. I can't say the religion ever had a big impact on our relationship at the time, although her mother did try to talk to me about God once or twice. This family remains one of my best examples of "Good Christian People" to this day, however.

Personally I've never had bad experiences about being out about atheism, although it's not something I spend a lot of time advertising---in the social circles where I usually move talking about your religion or lack of it would seem equally out of place. It did worry my in-laws (lapsed Catholics) a bit at first, but hasn't come up recently.

It did impact my daughter once, when a fellow child at daycare (seriously, four-year-olds here) told her I was going to Hell because I didn't believe in God. This upset my daughter quite a bit, but I explained that first of all I didn't think Hell existed and even if it did a God who would send me there just for not believing wouldn't be a very good God. Also they were a bit singled out because I wouldn't let the daycare lady put my kids in bible camp in the summer with the other kids, but she was quite good about making up special activities just for them, so they didn't feel too left out.

I don't spend a lot of time advertising my atheism, but then I don't spend a lot of time around people who advertise their religion either. It's certainly not something I hide.
"Where you raised in a religious or non-religious house hold?"

My parents are Atheist. My brother and sister are too. Even though my immediate family, as welll as most of my extended family were Atheist, my parents never pushed me into anything. I went to church when I was really young. Even then I knew it wasn't for me. I went from being very young to perhaps 11 or 12.

"Was religion predominant in the community you grew up in?"

I was in a fairly religious community. I would say. I didn't know it at the time as a child, but now that I am older, I can really see it.

"Did it cause any issues growing up, if you were raised non-religious among your religious friends?"

Religion was never an issue - ever. Among people I talked to, or friends.

"Have you ever been called out by someone about your stance on religion and belief?"

Yes, many times. The one I find most ridiculous was when I was at a party once. The conversation got into how I don't smoke, do drugs, or drink hardly ever. A guy near me says to me, "What are ya, religious or something??" I said, "No, I am an Atheist". He lunged at me, yelling at me. I don't even recall what he said, but he was clearly angery at me and wanted to physically harm me. I left the party. I find out later he was high on coke and a good ol' christian. I belive that is a microcosm of society at large.

"Do you find it difficult to be an out atheist in Canada?"

Notwithstanding the above situation, it isn't too hard. The odd ocassion you are confronted, but, at least the socio-political environment in Canada heavily supports secularism. Religion in regards to a political leader is not much of an issue. And, ethical/social issues in Canada are settled.

My parents come from religious backgrounds (Catholic), but I was in no way raised religious. My mum took me to church up until I was 5, but I think she did it more out of habit than anything. I would define my mother as a reluctant atheist. My father HATES the Church, but I think he's still spiritual. At a pretty early age I would think about God and came to the conclusion around age 10 that it was a pretty silly idea. I would get into arguments at school with the Catholic girl I knew. She invited me to church once, and I told her I didn't believe in God. I said "If there was a God, why are there little babies in poor countries starving to death?" She told me it was because they must have sinned. Needless to say, that's crazy, and just made me more sure of myself.


I've only met one or two people who objected to my atheism, and I just kind of tuned them out. It's easy for me to be an atheist in Canada, but I suppose it all depends on what region you're from, if you live in a city or a small town, etc. I'm from Vancouver, and I've never really had a problem with it here.

 

Some people have said earlier in this thread that Canadians are a little too concerned with making everybody happy. I do agree with this, but I'm not like that. While I don't go around shoving it down everyone's throat that I'm an atheist and everyone should believe what I believe, I'm not shy about my beliefs. If someone asks what I believe in, I won't hesitate from telling them the truth. If they don't like it, that's their problem. I think some people are ashamed of being an atheist because of the negative connotations that come with it. I'm trying to change that.

 

I feel so sorry for these American atheists that you hear about who are stuck in these fundamentalist communities. I don't know what I would do if I couldn't speak my mind.

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