Coming Out Atheist pg 19

Sep 26, 2017

“How else does coming out help other atheists? Well, coming out changes people’s minds about us. You’re probably familiar with the misinformation and bigotry about atheists: that we have no morality, that we have no meaning or joy in our lives, etc. The single best way to counter these myths is simply to come out: to be living, breathing counter-examples proving that the myths are just flatly wrong. We can make arguments showing that the myths are irrational; we can show research showing that they’re unsubstantiated; and all of that is useful. But ultimately, what changes people’s minds about atheists is simply coming into contact with us: seeing that someone they know, someone they love or respect or just think is a basically decent person, is an atheist.”

–Greta Christina, Coming Out Atheist, pg 19


10 comments on “Coming Out Atheist pg 19

  • Just do it folks. When I stopped believing religious rubbish in 1963 at the age of 14 I made no secret of my atheism to my family, friends and even the teachers at the Christian school I attended. Every term, we sat a Divinity exam. Every term I ignored the questions in the exam and wrote an essay on why religion was bad for the world. I always came last in the exam but never failed to attract some admiration from my less adventurous but equally thoughtful classmates.

    Now I’m a retired academic and ageing pillar of society. I have many regrets, but I don’t regret a moment of my 54 years of public atheism. I’ve stood for Parliament with an atheist agenda (with no chance of election, of course), given public lectures on the need for the primacy of science over religion, and have lived a satisfyingly godless life.

    It’s one thing to have no god, but quite another to be seen to have no god. It’s intellectually and socially liberating. Just do it.

    Report abuse

  • This story (below) is very disturbing. I encourage you to read this very brief article about teachers’ treatment towards an atheist student in a public school in Colorado. It is very unnerving that something like this could happen in a United States public school.

    Well this young woman is suing the school and I hope she wins and that the case gets national attention and the scum she’s suing suffer public humiliation, and the institution is forced to close.

    her 2015-16 senior year, Fisk says she “came out” as an atheist. She spoke and wrote critically of the school’s practices, including what was allegedly an overtly Christian, abstinence-only sex education course. In the spring of 2016, she gave an interview with a local newspaper about the school district, including the bibles being handed out at the middle school. Her complaint says that people issued death threats against her online, and when she notified the school, they did nothing.

    Report abuse

  • I’m glad Price (the Christian) was forced to resign due to public pressure associated with his unethical use of taxpayer funds to pay for private jets and other “perks”.

    Carmen Yulín Cruz, the now almost despairing mayor of San Juan, had to beg (yesterday, and after Day 9) another self proclaimed Christian whose “favorite book is the bible” to do something now to prevent suffering and death”: Trump. And that could be easily accomplished. His failure to provide relief and FEMA’s malfeasance may be by design; if that’s the case; she’s right: this might constitute a form of genocide. There is no power over there. It’s like Gaza. The nursing homes and hospitals are without power. Not enough food and water. Is it because they have darker skin over there?

    (Trump has been lying about FEMA and the relief effort. That’s another tactic and very disturbing. Just lie repeatedly; that’ll do it. This is a nefarious administration, and I am sick of it, sick of Trump and Ms Sanders and Conway, sick of these immoral psychopaths, these flag-defending rats.)

    Trump and his cohorts are the best gift to secularists and non-theists we could ever have been given. And our worst nightmare too; it is both, and the outcome is unknowable; but they are all advertisements for the hypocrisy, or more precisely, the posturing of these white nationalists and corrupt frauds, particularly in our own in government, who delight in sending their “thoughts and their prayers” but are seemingly incapable of decency.

    Report abuse

  • I had a conversation with an old friend last night. It started with him saying something about yom kippur.

    I told him that I despise religion and that there is no evidence to support the existence of….

    He cut me off and said that he knows it’s not true but it’s about community and it gives children a sense of security.

    I told him that people can find ways of bonding and comforting each other without relinquishing their reason and their ability to think critically in the process.

    I got that rejoinder from Dawkins. Thanks, RD.

    I think he heard me as he said nothing in reply. And this guy is a scholar, a professor, and extremely well-educated. Amazing how he needs to defend such nonsense. Family pressure, no doubt. His wife and in-laws are religious Jews. He himself is not even Jewish. Family pressure is a huge problem. Marriages are at stake!

    Report abuse

  • Bravo, Dan.

    I think this thing about children and security is particularly specious. Kids need few protections from the realities of life given love and support and time. They are tough, not the least needing stories of heaven, which will only hurt them later.

    But people know all the stuff of culture will die if kids are not indoctrinated in a timely fashion. Parents could choose a less burdened life for their charges.

    Report abuse

  • Dan

    He cut me off and said that he knows it’s not true but it’s about community and it gives children a sense of security.

    So much religious indoctrination in this life is explained away by citing excuses of benefits and protection of the kids. Baptism- what if they die without it? Straight to hell. Circumcision- sign of group membership and suffering that’s necessary for that. Confirmation- membership made official. Sunday school classes, youth groups, Haj, Ramadan, Bar Mitzvah, etc. All of this energy put toward children’s “sense of security”. Seems like overkill, no?

    As you point out, security and tribal affiliation at the expense of rational thinking. If religions were so fantastic then why would anyone need to sell it so hard to a child? They have to sell it hard precisely because it’s so ridiculous. Even so, look how many individuals go along with it just because they have no choice and then when they can eek out some freedom, put the whole sordid business behind them and move out of it’s sphere of control and into a lifestyle of their own choice.

    People like your friend and plenty of mine who are plodding along supporting the status quo on religious indoctrination of children in their own families need a stern reprimand from those of us who are committed to a kinder, reality based, emphasis on rational thinking type of upbringing for children.

    Ethics is a highly superior system for children to learn than any religious mindset that seeks to provide rigid rules that must be followed unquestioned and with severe punishment for those who don’t. Ethics requires consideration of the nuances of right and wrong, good and bad. This can be taught in age appropriate ways. Ethics acknowledges the gray areas in life and gives some cognitive framework for navigating the gray areas, never expecting perfection, just encouraging the best we can do with the situation given at that time. A kinder, gentler , rational way of proceeding in this life that no religion could ever deliver.

    I gave a eulogy for a friend some years ago and at the same time, a pastor gave one right before me. Mine was entirely secular and dealt with our friend’s life and included some amusing stories that showed the person he really was. The pastor’s eulogy was dull, impersonal and short. After the service he came up to me and complimented me on my eulogy but then (That was very nice, but….) stated that he believes we need to emphasize “tradition” in these matters. That was a code word for religion. I told him that I don’t accept his assumption that tradition is something purely good and that needs to be treated as sacred. In my view, most traditions carry very nasty baggage and need to be renovated or dismissed from the culture entirely. It did occur to me then that if I were to get my wish then he’d be out of a job. haha. He was not impressed with my answer. Dour sour puss limited person. ho-hum.

    His response to this was to immediately bring up the children! He said that children need the visible presence of traditions to feel their sense of community, their sense of belonging.

    I countered that churches, mosques and temples are too small a group for identification. It’s a small tribe. This is antiquated thinking. Tribes do serve the individual with an intense feeling of belonging but they also serve up severe control of that same individual. The individual surrenders so much to access the benefits of the tribe. Benefits that have been taken over by other institutions in our modern day. Protection, education, marriage opportunities, etc. Now, forcing children into these teeny tiny inward looking groups known as religions only serves to shrink the world of children. This does them no good service and only leaves them stunted cognitively.

    Instead of bringing kids up in a small tribe of related individuals with weird old bad traditions, why not offer them a different type of tribe? A worldwide international, genetically diverse tribe that is composed of educated, rational, ethical, humanist thinkers that seek progress in the world (instead of just the small tribe) who are adaptable and somewhat fearless in the face of our common challenges and are capable of assimilating to a large degree where ever they go? Huh? What’s not to like about that? And all we have to do is have the courage to say – You know what? Kids don’t need circumcision, baptism, confirmation, Sunday school, bar mitzvah, ramadan, etc. at all. They need exercises in empathy. Instruction in ethical thinking, not instruction in old scary fairy tales that seem to have been popular several thousand years ago in a savage, brutal part of the world.

    So Dan, I think you did this friend of yours a favor. You’ve given him permission to break out of a boring little cognitive box and maybe, just maybe have the guts to think for himself. Amazing that intelligent, educated and basically good people need a kick in the cognitive ass to do that for themselves but such is the nature of indoctrination. After that it’s up to them. They can spark up a few neurons to take a chance on a new idea or they can crawl back into the dark dank safe place where someone else does the thinking for them.

    Report abuse

  • I so, so, so want the godless to claim the moral high ground which is more nearly within their grasp than the goddists. I am utterly happy to share it with the UK Quakers. I’d accept a notch down, indeed, because I think they more consistently aim for reasoned compassion than any.

    But religious moral dogma is plainly immoral, too often falling short of harms of outrageous fortune. How much more moral for young children not to be taught nonjudgmental thankfulness for a fickle world in habituated prayer before bed but to think about others with your mum or dad. Whats to do tomorrow? Who might be unhappy? (Nana, her cat’s just died.) And think what can we do to make things a little better. (Maybe a drawing of Fluffy on Nana’s knee. Your good at drawing. We could take it round at the weekend.)

    Prayers alone easing your discomfort at the misfortunes of others are a disgrace. Every… single… time… a disgrace.

    Report abuse

  • About six years ago, my cousin and I were talking and he looked at me in disbelief and asked, “you don’t believe in god at all?” He then went on to tell me he was having trouble with his son who would not go to religious events with the rest of the family. I really can’t remember how the conversation went after that but I felt proud and guilty.

    (Sorry, going to flit about in time a bit)

    Two years before that, at a wedding, his thirteen year old son came and sat opposite me instead of others his own age. We talked most of the wedding over the din of the eardrum bursting music. We did a bit of religion and my level of science. At one point he told me he was having trouble with his dad..

    This summer, my cousin and I managed to meet up in Cyprus. Sitting on a ledge in the pool, I congratulated him on his daughter getting into journalism and how she had done it without any fuss and surprised us all. His son had gone into law but I always knew he had a head on his shoulders. My cousin then told me that if they ever talk about his sons carreer, his son always includes that talk at the wedding and the £150 I stuck in his pocket because he had done well in his exams that year. I asked my cousin how they were getting on with the religious thing and I was shocked to hear him say, “well, it’s all a load of bollocks anyway”.

    Report abuse

  • What are people supposed to do about their wives, husbands, and families? How are people who have arrived at atheism and who now see the pernicious nature of religion – not only religion but everything associated with it in their own lives – to keep their marriages together? It’s not just about getting people to change their minds about us. “Coming out”, it seems to me, is about forbidding one’s children from taking part in certain rituals, celebrating holidays perhaps, and certainly going to church or synagogue, or whatever it is. That will create tremendous discord in a marriage where one parent believes strongly in preserving “the tradition” Yes, they are wrong and we’re right. Of course that parent is wrong, but one can be right and also be separated or divorced too. Large price to pay for being right. Does the author have any advise about that? I realize now that “coming out”, if you are dealing with a religious, or even a fiercely determined traditional spouse and there are young children involved, is far more complex and costly than I had ever thought, and that one may have to be willing to face separation or even divorce – or be willing to bite one’s tongue and put one’s principles in one’s shirt pocket. Very tough situation for some. Let’s not kid ourselves. When it comes to religion and raising their children people will not give up so easily and break with generations of tradition. They (the religious) are pressured by their families and community. (The word “traditional” can be used synonymously with “religious” in many cases presumably.)

    A father with a religious or “traditional” wife and a couple of kids who decides to come out as gay would probably have an easier time keeping his family together than he would if he had decided to come out as an atheist – assuming the guy is religious too and agrees with his wife about keeping up appearances and going to church regularly and doing this and doing (or not doing) that, or having the kids bar mitzvahed, or whatever it is. (I am assuming that the wife and the husband himself, although religious, are not virulently anti-gay fundamentalists.)

    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.