Coming Out Atheist, pg 76

Dec 20, 2016

“And using the world more is a big part of what’s going to de-stigmatize it. Marnie, who grew up in southern New Hampshire in a generically Christian family, says, “I try to avoid hedging and avoiding the topic, when it’s brought up. I feel strongly that when ostensibly ‘normal’ people say they are atheists without immediately ripping the head off a nearby child, or invoking a dark lord, I think it subtly changes the way people view atheists. Id on’t think atheists need to be perfect or exceptional in any way, I think the most powerful thing they can be is relatable.”
Being vague or imprecise about your language can also make things difficult if you decide later on that you want to be more open. Stephanie, who grew up and lives in the fairly non-religious country of France, says, “These days, if beliefs come up in conversation I am comfortable prefacing my opinion with ‘I am an atheist,’ whereas in the past I would have said ‘I have many doubts,’ ‘ I have serious issues with organized religion but I’m not sure about divinity/spirituality,’ or ‘ I am an agnostic’… My close friends, my sister (a practicing Christian but not a devout or bigoted one) and my aunt (who believes lots of new-age-y nonsense), when I said this to them for the first time, responded by dismissing it. ‘You? No, you’re really not an atheist.’ Several people had that reaction. This is presumably based on previous conversations we had had. I let it go, but it annoyed me.”

–Greta Christina, Coming Out Atheist, pg 76


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4 comments on “Coming Out Atheist, pg 76

  • I live in India mostly but also Switzerland, Sweden and upstate Newyork. Surprisingly whenever I mention that I am an atheist during social gatherings in India there is not so much of a flutter but when this happened with my neighbor in Newyork, she was agasht. My husband and I had just returned home after listening to Richard speak in Philadelphia and I was simply updating her about our day and since she didn’t know who Richard was, I was telling her about his books and she was interested till I mentioned that he was an atheist. Sad to say, that she lost interest in him very quickly after that. In Europe I almost get more respect for being secular and an atheist.



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  • @OP – My close friends, my sister (a practicing Christian but not a devout or bigoted one) and my aunt (who believes lots of new-age-y nonsense), when I said this to them for the first time, responded by dismissing it. ‘You? No, you’re really not an atheist.’ Several people had that reaction. This is presumably based on previous conversations we had had. I let it go, but it annoyed me.”

    If they already know you as a”normal person”, then telling them that you wear that atheist badge which disparaging preachers have attached to their regularly asserted demonic straw-atheist images, must create mental conflicts!

    It is a regular ploy of preachers to flatter congregations by proclaiming “true Scotsman moral superiority” for their own cults, by disparaging non- members, and secular people in particular!

    US televangelists are probably among the worst offenders!



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  • 3
    fadeordraw says:

    a generically Christian familylockquote

    Jeese, I really want these paragraphs from US self-help books for would-be atheists to exit and be replaced by those worthy of an interesting discussion of the DR foundation community. Pls provide the stats that these books sell or including them on the RD site has increased their circulation. At any rate, since we’re in the RD realm, I would understand a religious family would be meme determined, rather than gene determined; and that would be a very important distinction. At any rate, I think with such imprecision, this faux social science, needs a long long rest and reflection.



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  • I’ve actually been an atheist for a long time; I’ve just not bothered admitting it to myself or to anyone.

    My mother was an atheist but she brought me up in the Christian faith so that I could make up my own mind later on; she sent me to Sunday school and then she signed me up to sing in the church choir, and finally sent me to a boarding school where I studied divinity and had to go to church once a fortnight. I participated in the social convention that is religion, never fully convinced. I rejected the dogma of the church from day 1 and at most considered myself a pantheist.

    Having said all that, now that I am coming out definitively as an atheist, I can understand people’s fears; there is peer pressure (or a sense thereof), and although I am 100% convinced that the great majority of Christians are lazy believers there is still a need to conform, and “atheist” has such derogatory connotations. Also, it’s hard to tell a truly religious person that- since you are an atheist- you think he/she is wrong, and that he/she has dedicated all his/her life to a lie; it’s hard not to be understood as saying something like: “I think you’re an idiot to dedicate your time and energy to this”.



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