Out and proud! Brand spanking new AN member, here. I just moved from New Mexico to rural Missouri, and it's been both more and less of culture shock than I expected, in different ways. New Mexico is definitely more religious than Missouri (statistically, speaking) and heavily Catholic, while Missouri is primarily Protestant of some sort or another, from what I can tell.
But in NM, I used to wear my "Christianity Is Stupid" T-shirt openly, whenever I felt like it (y'know, from the NegativeLand song of the same name). Even wore it to class a couple times, without incident (it was clean :). I'd get the occasional dirty look or comment, but usually just surprise that I had the huevos in such a heavily Catholic community. Most folks that commented on it thought it was funny.
Here in Missouri, I wouldn't even wear it around the farm. The sense of self-righteous piety is palpable. There might be fewer true believers, here, but too many of the ones we have are willful and confrontational. God talk is everywhere - on half the t-shirts people wear, 1/4 of the billboards along the road, throw a rock and bust out a church window. In general, they are more zealous and easily offended than NM.
So I might not wear my favorite t-shirt, now, but I'm sure as hell not going back in the closet. It's stuffy in there. My GF's Grandpa died and her aging, almost blind Grandma was facing the end of her years in a home, so we pulled up stakes to come take care of her - she's also an out of the closet atheist. Not any of the true believers in her family - we the heathens did, and I think it's been something of an eye-opener for the moralizers in the community who thought all us atheists were amoral bastiches.
Should be interesting! I joined AN to try to find other atheists/agnostics/humanists/skeptics in MO - never felt like I needed support group in NM. Here? Oh yeah. We're definitely going to need to find some like minds who use their minds. Looking forward to blogging about my experience in the coming months/years!
Lovin' Atheist Nexus!!