Facebook tells me it is "National Coming Out Day" and a friend of mine points out how similar coming out as an atheist can be to coming out as gay, so I am curious: how many of you are out, and how did people react?

 

EDIT: I never meant to imply that one was as hard as the other-- a gay friend of mine was listening to the atheist experience with me and made the comment about how occasionally a 'new' atheist would call, and they reminded him of gays that were just coming out. That's all. 

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Was that unwitting Xians, or witless Xians???? :-)

I think I mentioned before that I am pretty guarded about my beliefs. They're really none of anyone's business. But I'm also pretty much a live and let live person, in that I will simply tell people who try to convert me (particularly door-knockers) that they're wasting their time. They usually DO take that for an answer, and quietly leave.

As far as the first amendment, I'm passionate about that. Religion belongs in the church and in the home, but not in public. I'm Grinchy enough that I don't even celebrate ostensibly Pagan holidays, because to me they are just as much loony religious holidays as Christian ones. On the other hand, I'm happy to celebrate holidays that unite us and stand for things like freedom of conscience, and being grateful for the things I have -- so Thanksgiving is a good holiday for me -- you don't have to believe in god to know that you have been lucky to have been born in this country. I don't know what luck is, other than a random roll of the dice, but for me, the roll came out good, and I'd be a fool not to appreciate that.

Thank you, Natalie. Some of those xians were unwitting; some were witless. I may use their noise levels to distinguish the unwitting from the witless.

 

I also spent 12 long school years amongst those Roman Catholics and it added a great deal of reasoning behind my choice of atheism.

Ditto. When xians proselytize me politely I tell them "If I hadn't spent 12 years in Catholic schools I might still believe in a god."

 

 

I was thinking about growing up in a 1950s Happy Days culture, in a nominally religious home. We weren't effusively devout. Religious holidays had to coincide with national ones in order to be observed and merit a turkey on the table. It was a huge, heavy, oval-shaped 3-leaf affair that could seat a company of Marines when pressed into holiday service. (I only recently put it out on the curb with mixed emotions for "bulk trash day".) Back in those days, I recall that religious affiliation was largely private and no one would've thought of "witnessing" to a guest or neighbor. It would've been considered bad manners...just plain rude. It just wasn't done. My mother came the closest to anything remotely evangelical when she would, in times of stress or anger, call on enough saints to fill up the Red Sox post-season roster.
Having said that, it's no surprise then that as an adult I've felt no coercive familial restraints blocking my conversion...or rather deconversion to non-belief. I also don't worry about what other people think...and I 
really mean exactly that. If my atheism arises as a topic, I will often engage people if they are genuinely inquisitive. But beyond that, it simply doesn't arise today as an issue anymore than my former religious status did back then. Then again, as a matter of daily routine I don't associate much with friends or colleagues who are ignorant busy-bodies, so it probably doesn't come up in conversation as much as it might if I lived in the more hermetically sealed culture of the Bible Belt.
One of the really dastardly things about religions- Christianity an Islam in particular is They teach intolerance as some kind of a normal bias baseline. Thereafter the "socialized" devotee can't wrap their head around any norms different from their own. Violence becomes the standard coping mechanism when heterogenaity is in prevalence. Curiosity is replaced by fear of that which is different. Coming out is better when the mob of xenophobes can be controlled, or when the number of dissenters to religious memes is in parity to numbers of religious patrons in immediate surroundings. Identity should never be tandamount to a death sentence.
I find it really interesting-- a friend of mine decided the other day to hold up a sign saying "I AM AN ATHEIST, ASK ME QUESTIONS" across the courtyard from a group of evangelizing Christians. He got a lot of people high fiving him and such, but the best part was that the pastor leading the Christians-- who turned out to be a childhood friend of his, oddly enough-- thought the whole thing was great. The pastor agreed with my friend on a lot of points, and said he admired and respected him for what he was doing. Now, the pastor's flock, on the other hand, was angry and hateful, and didn't understand why their leader was being so respectful. 

Just thought it was interesting.
That's great. Here's a favorite text-bite of mine quoted from another "atheist" web site & blog:

"No Christian is exempted from being human by believing in God. Conversely, no non-believer is ever banished from the human family for not believing either." ---L. E. Alba

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