I work in an office full of deeply religious women. I am the "pet" atheist. Most of them think that I'm just bucking the system. I am meant to "overhear" several "covert" comments such as: "No one can believe in nothing." or "I'm raising *my* children in a good, christian home.". I have yet to meet a single atheist here. Well, there's one, but he's atheist-chic. It seems like the cool thing to be, so...

I was never outspoken about my lack of belief in a deity, but I would answer honestly if asked. Of course, office gossip is faster than email, so everyone knew within moments of my having "outed" myself. I was asked christmas before last if I was all ready. I must've been in a bad mood because I didn't give the usual noncommittal answer of "hmumhm", but stated that I don't celebrate it. When asked why, I let the bomb out, that I don't believe in a god. This didn't go over very well, and of course, she told me that I couldn't be a nonbeliever because I'm too good and helpful a person, ending with "I'll be praying for you".

These women truly can't get it in their heads that I don't believe. They all think that I'll have some Paul-esk vision or something. I've long since given up trying to defend my position, but they haven't. I feel like an atheist in a foxhole.

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That must make it uncomfortable at work. Like, you're always at least partly an outsider now. Just remember that they're infected with religious memeplexes, mind viruses. Damn, I have a fantasy image of working with zombies who want to infect you with their viruses.

Doris, You might consider, this holiday season, telling coworkers that you celebrate HumanLight on Dec 23rd. It's a celebration of humanity, reason, and hope. There's a HumanLight group here, for more information. You could even put an ornament on your desk, if they decorate their desks with Christmas stuff. This one is $10. If you're interested in waaay overpriced tee shirts etc. Check out my store at Cafe Press. We've been celebrating HumanLight for quite a few years now.

It's hard to rise above this kind of crap. I look on it as observing some strange athropological death throe reflexes of a dangerous mental virus that is only slowly leaving us, unless we die of it first. It's always fought to survive. We find antibiotics and it regroups and evolves into another variation. I think we might be gradually closing in on it now.

I had a Jehovah's Witness working at my last place of work. I never told her I was an atheist (I was there to work, and it would have been a real uphill struggle anyway), but my colleague who was agnostic but believed in 'angels' used to start conversations with her designed to bait me. She'd say in a loud voice "Oh but atheism is just a belief system as well", (yeah, like that belief system of not believing in unicorns or Santa Claus, or anything else you can't see or hear). Then the J.V. would enthusiastically agree. I just acted busy. But when I had a few life traumas the bloody Watchtower started getting left on my desk.

Another highly religious friend paid me a compliment once that spoke volumes about his faith He said I behaved in a more Christian way than many of his Christian friends...soooo...I waited for him to start to make some connections. No, instead I was (he died 2 years ago) for many years told that I would one day come to God because I had a "Christian heart". That was annoying. No, y'see, this is simply how atheists behave, mostly.

But I haven't had exactly your experience Doris. Just remember, there's all of us out here!

Actually there are 2 JWs at work. One is very cool and loves the Flying Spaghetti Monster and will have fantastic discussions with me, though she hasn't gotten back to me on a justification for the law in exodus that tells you that you're not in trouble if the slave you've beaten dies a couple of days after his beating...

The other one is crrrraazy! She can't have a civil discussion about anything JW-related. I know it wasn't at the time, but the Watchtower thing is kinda funny to me. The others are Nazi-fundamentalists.

Thanks for the insight.

It's hard for me to understand why otherwise rational people subscribe to belief systems that usually contradict there own morals, then wonder how people with no belief have morals.  However, the workplace is not an appropriate place to push a belief or disbelief on anyone, and i certainly wouldn't be shy to say so when someone behaves that way. I would think that participating in a game like that isn't likely to work out very well.  I hope you have some better luck in dealing with these silly people in the future.

I am the lone atheist and liberal in my office, luckily, I work with really open minded and wonderful people who would never try to push their beliefs on me or make me feel poorly for what I believe. The women you work with have an obvious lack of respect for others around them. Don't let it get to you too much, though, if they disrespect you in like that then they are disrespecting others as well (probably not for atheism but for plenty more.) Remember that you are the reasonable one. I really like Ruth's idea about HumanLight. I had never heard of it before and am looking forward to researching it. My family always celebrated Christmas but in a religious manner, it was about family not a deity, but I think that HumanLight would fit us (or at least me better.)

 

I am truly sorry that you have to put up with that. Whenever someone says "I'll be praying for you," I usually respond with "I appreciate you keeping me in your thoughts." It's non confrontational and appreciative, without being like "that's the last damn place I want to be." I am open and honest about my atheism but I try not to be a jerk about it. If someone sneezes I say "health" instead of "bless you." But I always respond with "thank you" if someone says "bless you" to me when I sneeze just out of respect. 

 

I think that maybe you should have a respectful discussion with these women about your concerns. You deserve to work an environment where you feel 100% comfortable.

I have exactly three ladies who are fun to talk to, especially the good JW I mentioned above. I do say "gesundheit" when someone sneezes and say "thanks" when I'm blessed in preparation for my imminent death (jk- I'm a history buff). It's the rest of them. Thank you. I will feel that much less alone tomorrow.
I know how you feel. I have the same problem only it's not at work. It feels like the whole entire town I live in is religulous. (I stole that term from Bill Maher) This is also compounded by the fact that I'm a recovering addict--the "cure" for which is of course the 12 steps. Several of these steps involve faith in a "higher power", aka God. This has actually given me more reason to stay clean, however, if only to prove that it can be done w/o believing in invisible, supernatural, gender specific, deities.
The Thinking Atheist has a video about that on YouTube-the 12step thing. I'll post a link later.
You are not mistaken. Christmas is just the tip of the iceberg as far as pagan "christian" holidays go.

the biggest thing I hated about work was -always- office gossip and the music they played--I also worked every Sunday(truck day--I didn't mind getting up at 4am to start my shift at 6am--I was out of there by 2pm), and so I'd end up showing religious people just after church where everything was(after about noon was our busiest time).

But no, the gossip and the music--luckily in an office environment they likely don't play music for -everyone- but at my job they would always pick a local church station.

I highly suggest you point out that because you, as an atheist, only have one life to live and consider yourself accountable for all actions--you're much less likely to do something bad than someone who can simply pray about it and be forgiven--and if someone talks about how they're "raising their children in a good christian home" I'd point out that hell is a terrifying concept for children, and you wouldn't want your child living in fear forever of some mythical hades.

You will have to carefully slip these in--but they're all true, and run contradictory to how your gossipy coworkers react--and now that you're out, you will need to protect yourself from them--they could eventually ostracize you or attempt to get you fired.

This IS one reason why if I got hired in an office, I'd end up begging to telecommute most of the time.

and they wonder...
I got crap like 'go w/god..' at the last job...
how about 'go with my work; go complain to boss...'
"wanna start a union?" that'll get em' going too.

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