Ostracisation and wishing I was born a sheep!

Dec 6, 2012

Discussion by: EnthusiasticAtheist
I posted in an earlier thread about an experience I had as a child (sorry I don’t know yet how to refer to a thread) where my brother and cousin and myself were removed from our respective class rooms every morning because bible study and recitation of the lords prayer occured for an hour every morning.  When my father discovered this and lodged a complaint (this was in a public school system which in Canada is non-denominational) we were relegated to a hallway with nowhere to sit and nothing to do.  My brother was given the strap (yes as in corporal punishment) because he was caught peeling paint from a door frame. This was in the mid 1970’s.

Now as an adult, I live in a fairly relgious community in central Canada and although I work in post secondary education, I’m surrounded by people of faith, or almost as bad IMO, atheists who refuse to admit that they are.  I will admit at times in my life to thinking it would just be so much simpler if I had been born a “sheep”.  You know, one of those people who just blindly believes everything I am told and belongs to a social community of equally blind believers.

I moved to this community more than 20 years ago to find employment and have never fit in or felt as though I belonged.  I am outspoken about many things, I say what I mean and think, which most people can’t handle and so write me off as “different”.  When it comes to expressing my atheism they give me that pitiable smile and gently move along to the next topic as if I am some how broken or morally deficient!   I love that I live in a multi-cultural melting-pot society, but my opportunities for getting to know people are severely limited because I do not “believe”. 

Has anyone else experienced this lack of community due to not having faith?

11 comments on “Ostracisation and wishing I was born a sheep!

  • 1
    Grimace says:

    After spending the first 24 years of my life living in the same
    place, I moved into a field of work which has taken me all over the country and
    I have consistently found it difficult to establish social connections outside
    of work.


    One of the benefits of organised religion you walk straight
    into a readymade and welcoming social scene wherever you happen to find
    yourself. Secularism does not, in my experience, have a replacement for this
    type of community engagement.


    In a limited way, sporting and other clubs go some way to
    replacing these established communities, but it is certainly not the type of automatic
    inclusiveness experienced with organised religion.

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  • 2
    Pauly01 says:

    I can be opinionated as well. I always found myself going against the grain. But for me theres no option even if I tried to believe , something would keep nagging me along the lines of ‘this isn’t right’. Many people can pretend , they have the psychological makeup to do so , its neccessary for alot of jobs , I’m just not made that way.

    And difference is good. If you weren’t different you could be appeasing for example. And to my mind thats no way to go through life either.

    And life is not perfect , no magic bullet philosophy , if you doubt yourself weigh it up reasonably , which of all the options before me could I personally live with.

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  • 3
    OHooligan says:

    I moved to this community more than 20 years ago to find employment and have never fit in or felt as though I belonged.

    How you stayed 20 years beats me.

    As for ready-made community acceptance, I play music, as an amateur, and have always found a welcoming bunch of people to share this activity with, and I’ve moved around a fair bit. 

    One of my relations met her husband in a common–interest social group, hiking and tramping.

    Perhaps you have an interest – outside work and philosophical/religious opinion – that you can share with a common-interest group?   And perhaps it’s time for a move, unless you are now so embedded with family that moving isn’t really an option.

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  • 4
    CdnMacAtheist says:

    Being an ‘outsider’ was common during my non-theist youth in Scotland, where I was not a protestant or a catholic xtian.

    I’m a Motor Sport guy, very involved in several communities – racing, rally, ice racing, karts, autoslaloms, time attacks, rallycross, car shows….  These groups are too busy working hard at having fun on weekends (and weeknights!!!) to have time for religion or attending services.  Of my hundreds of friends – for up to 40 years – I couldn’t tell you the religion of more than a handful, but they are a moral, helpful, non-sexist, charitable bunch of respectfully competitive rascals…. 😎  In the USA, there is still some religion involved in racing event invocations, but not here in Canada or back in the UK.

    There are certainly other local groups whose interests & hobbies leave them no time for any religious talk or duties.

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  • 5
    OHooligan says:

    I couldn’t tell you the religion of more than a handful, but they are a moral, helpful, non-sexist, charitable bunch…

    Exactly.  Such groups IMHO are a lot more decent, honest, and good to be around than any religion based group.   From experience I’ve acquired a simple rule-of-thumb for gauging people I meet – the more overtly religious, the less trustworthy.

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  • Definately.  You really have to work hard to find an accepting community as an athiest, particularly if you live in a less urban setting.  A couple places that have helped me connect with other non-believers include the UU church and local progressive political organizations.  In those settings I’ve generally felt welcomed as an atheist and free to be honest about my lack of belief and have met like minded individuals as well.  Some atheists might find the UU church off putting, but it can be a familiar and tolerant setting for an ex-Christian particularly in a place where there aren’t a lot of active secular organizations.

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  • 7
    hillary m says:

    My childhood was made horrible because my family members were atheists living within an intolerant Christian community. At school I was physically and, especially, verbally abused, all the time. I was also ostracized, which was a welcome relief from the kinds of attentions I usually received from my peers. I didn’t even know WHY I was treated the way I was: my parents never explained to me the importance that religious faith has for most people, nor why my being different provoked them.
    Today, I am proud of my atheist convictions. But I remain reluctant to discuss them, or even to reveal that I am an atheist, except to like-minded individuals. I’ve become good friends with a devoutly Catholic couple in my neighborhood, and when one of them asked what my religious beliefs were, I answered truthfully. But I was afraid both that I would lose the friendship and that I would become the subject of malicious neighborhood gossip.  

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  • 8
    aquilacane says:

    I would take myself out of class in the early to mid 80’s, until they removed the Lord’s prayer from schools in Ontario. I stood outside because you could hear the prayer in the halls. I had a science teacher confront me and I just gave him shit about teaching me to need evidence to support science but not religion. He looked dumfounded being put on the spot by an 11 year old—with reason, no less. 

    My high school accounting teacher once asked me to stand still in the hall during the Lord’s prayer, I said I wasn’t religious and kept walking. He asked me to stand still out of respect, I informed him I didn’t have any respect for religion and kept walking. He just looked at me. I think he was stunned.

    Be yourself because they will be themselves. And maybe, they will realize, they are just like you but with no respect for themselves.

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  • 9
    Bananamama says:

    I’m the only atheist around where I’m from as far as I know. I’m surrounded by at least fifteen churches in the immediate area. They should have just built libraries or something fun like go kart tracks or sushi bars.

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  • 10
    Bruvvamoff says:

    I live blisfully in a world absent of religion.
    However given the choice, I would much rather be an outcast thinker than a sheep.
    I’ve never followed the flock. Fasion, music, food, I’ve always had my own opinions which have often led me to being the odd one out.
    I’m fine with that, and so long as my life was not in danger from being openly Atheist then I definitely would be.

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