I had thought of shutting the survey down a while ago but I am glad I didn't. The main reason I am doing this research is to -in some small way- confront the stigmatization of atheism. By discussing the results in both popular press and "academic" print media and, of course, online, I hope to describe who atheists are and some of the social crap we have to deal with on a day to day basis.
By keeping the survey live longer I am making it possible for an important latent function of the survey to continue: it appears to act as an empowering and cathartic agent for some. So be it.
Here are a few representative comments by respondents:
1. This comment reminds me of the infamous statement from G H W Bush saying that atheists are not Americans:
i am from the philippines which is 80% roman catholic and over here, the clergy exerts a great influence on affairs of the state, also when our constitution was re-written in 1987, GOD is mentioned there in many places and i feel that as a Filipino citizen who is a non-believer, this failure to fully separate church and state affairs does not only stigmatize me, but render me invisible.
2. These are a common themes: atheists are not moral and are to be shunned and only religious people do good things. I found these themes again and again in the comments.
I returned a lost bunny to a very grateful father of two young children who live a couple blocks away. The children had passed out flyers with the bunnys picture on it saying it was lost and to please return him if found. I had found him, in my yard, days earlier, and was taking care of the, clearly domesticated, floppy eared bunny. I found the flyer on my porch and delivered said bunny to their house. The father was very excited, very talkative and expressing much gratitude. He asked me what church I belonged to, clearly expecting me to be religious, I said I was an athiest. His attitude changed suddenly, he became quiet and distant, apparently not comprehending how a non-religious person could do a kind thing. He lives in the neighborhood and hasn't looked at me since. His children look at me as if I am evil.
3. I find myself in this exact situation. I have responsibility for a program and feel I cannot come out completely:
I co-owned a small business in a small southern town in Georgia. The hardest thing for a small business owner is to fit in amongst other business owners and your customers, to build that reputation. It was a constant internal battle there more so then working for a company. I had responsibilities to my employees to make my company work and bad press is bad press. I could not be true to myself and my beliefs in that invironment.
4. His/her statement says it all:
I'm an ex Muslim, outing myself as an apostate is simply dangerous.
5. This is one very direct impact of the stigma:
Was fired for chronic conflicts with coworkers after coming out. Felt if I had a religious community or label, I would have been treated better but since it was "just me" they were free to ridicule.
I once worked in an office with about 10 other people, all of whom were religious. They talked about their beliefs, but when I talked about mine, I was fired.
That's all for now. Thanks to everyone for participating. Stay tuned.....