Thanks For Coming Out Of The Closet

It isn’t easy, I know. We’re a tiny segment of the population and even if we number greater than it seems, it’s difficult to know how many of us there truly are because too many are happier remaining uncounted and lack the boldness to admit what they are.

That you had the courage to be counted speaks volumes of your valor and daringness.

We are not so different than they are. We seek meaning in our lives too. We strive to be perceived as morally sound and ethically correct. They speak of our unnatural practices but we know they have scores of their own. They have tortured us throughout history because they believed our ideals and passions differed from theirs. We have constantly been branded as abominations and they have always supposed that we are against regularity and normalcy; defiant of the natural order intended for the world. In truth we are the same as they, or at least equally valid.

It’s true that some of us have a wild streak which is manifested in higher than average rates of co-mingling. We like to think that we are adventurous and broadly accepting. We pride ourselves on being knowledgeable conversationalists and often treat others with more courtesy than they afford us. We constantly willingly engage in discussions concerning the lifestyle and the last thing we each hope is that this differing viewpoint is mysterious. In fact, most of us don’t even consider it a style of life. We simply are the way we are; no labels or apologies should be necessary.

Because of the misperceptions we’re saddled with, it is extremely important that we fight this immense and repressive ignorance with honesty and pride. Life isn’t as easy as it should be when you’re an atheist, but you’re a better person for admitting it.

53 thoughts on “Thanks For Coming Out Of The Closet

  1. I find this hard to imagine – in the United Kingdom (apart from small backward parts like Northern Ireland) we are almost a secular country. It is almost the norm to be an atheist. I must admit, I don’t envy you having to be ‘in the closet’.

    Good luck to you guys – never be ashamed of not believing the books of myths and all of the evil that they are responsible for.

    While rowing a boat down a very beautiful river today, I marvelled at the sunshine, my beautiful wife before me, the rich foliage on the banks, the ducks quacking at us, and I thought: who needs miracles ? Life is already staggeringly miraculous enough – the mere fact that we exist at all is enough to blow your mind – why do religious people feel the need to enhance what is already marvellous ?

    Shall we start our own religion ? The church of the miraculous conception – i.e. our own ?

  2. (Too tired to think straight) Doh! hit “submit” too soon… of which the main point is that gays and atheists share certain challenges and are even sometimes lumped together in winger rhetoric.

  3. I’m getting more and more forward about it. But as a parent, I fear for my children should the USA keep sinking towards a 2cd Dark Ages—I fear that atheists will be among the first against the wall!

    But at the same time, I’m finding myself being more and more forthright about it. 

    I keep reminding myself “2/3rds of humanity are NOT Christian—*I’M normal!*”  But in a nation which is 80% Christian, we are certainly the minority here.

    However, thats if you are lumping together the Pentacostals, with the Catholics, with the Mormons, with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, with the Baptists . . . etc.  Many of whom don’t consider the OTHER groups to be legitimate Christians – when you take that into account, its a much less unified country.

    Well, the USA is pretty clearly headed towards a pretty major economic, energy, social breakdown – maybe on the other side of it we’ll come out more truly open-minded?  I’d fight for peoples right to believe in any idiocy they want to—but they can’t have laws based on whatever the currently popular fairytail is that affect me. They can’t have my tax dollars used, and my fellow American’s die for – any specific beLIEf system.

    Its a pretty scary time, either we teeter on the edge of a new world which could be better, or on the edge of a new Great Depression/Crusades/Dark-Ages.

  4. Hey BelfastBoy, we Northern Irish aren’t all backwards! (I know at least 3 atheists there) :p

    I thought I was gay once, but I think I was just a little too into Elton John.

  5. I really wish I had that “Edit” feature. That last line of my post is completely irrelevant; I thought part of the post was talking about coming out as gay. *slaps head*

  6. I thought part of the post was talking about coming out as gay.

    Could be… only need to change one word.  And that may be Brock’s point.  Brock, did we get it?

  7. Could be… only need to change one word.  And that may be Brock’s point.  Brock, did we get it?

    Yes, of course you got it.

    TheBo$$, your last line wasn’t as irrelevant as you thought. It made me chuckle so it was worth saying.

    It is eerie that you are writing about this too DOF. I look forward to checking out what you’re putting together.

    Susan, I hope we’re moving toward a better world but I refuse to take any blame if we aren’t. I’m not being avant-garde for the hell of it: I carefully chose the irritant I would use to mess with society.

    BelfastBoy, I had no idea you folks were such cleah thinkas. I do declare, y’all are positively scand-a-lous and I simply adore it!

  8. Discrimination of any kind is still discrimination.  Even though we live in a small rural town, I have convinced my wife to be forthcoming as well.  One of her friends even joked about me when I sat next to a cross that was hanging on her wall. LOL

  9. DOF wrote:

    …the main point is that gays and atheists share certain challenges and are even sometimes lumped together in winger rhetoric.

    Try being both.

    I’m intrigued, however, by the idea of being doubly damned. If eternity is forever, how does one go to Hell twice (I don’t even like Michigan)? Does Jeebus toss you down into the pit then snatch you back up, yell “I really mean it!” in your face and then hurl you back down again?

  10. I’m intrigued, however, by the idea of being doubly damned. If eternity is forever, how does one go to Hell twice (I don’t even like Michigan)? Does Jeebus toss you down into the pit then snatch you back up, yell “I really mean it!

  11. The idea of a second dark adges is an interesting idea. One of the points that sometimes comes up with nihilists(spelling?) is that humans cannot progress with out going back a little. Maybe a war that kills most of the human race, or america’s econimy crashing into nothingness. But, for certain, america is probably not going to change all that much in the way of getting more accepting any time soon(especially with the political leaders making judgements based on faith).

    Aetheism it seems to me is one way of getting to a place of more acceptance. Or maybe some religion like quakerism. I Have a lot of experiance with quakerism(my school is a quaker school); they are absolutely against any sort of discrimination, killing, or any sort of hurting, physical or mental. I am an aetheist(or maybe agnostic) and my school, although being technically religios, puts up with it very well. They encourage thinking for one’s self. Even if it is somewhat against what they believe.

    Cheers BunBun

  12. Try being a left-handed atheist (like, umm, me). We should have a devout right-handed Christian live with a bunch of left-handed atheists for 30 days, like that new show.

    Can you imagine being a black gay atheist left-handed Muslim-heritage woman in America?

  13. Its too bad that aetheism is not more in the open. I think it represents some of the best of human thinking because aetheists are not going to blame every thing on god. They are forced to think for themselves, like it or not. Thinking for one’s self is the first step in becoming an inteligent person.

    Another thing thats too bad: people who do think for themselves are labeled as geeks, losers, nerds, and any of a load of other insultingly toned words. However if it was not for those people then the “normal” people would still be living in wooden huts built in six inches of mud mixed with horse/cow crap. Could those “normal” people at least have the appreciation to just leave us “not normal” people alone. Well, I guess they need some sort of scape goat to heap there inadiquateness/stupidity/mindlessness on. Maybe that is a bit judgemental, I’m sure there are some nice normal people out there. I just wish more would of them be part of the government/media.

    Cheers BunBun

  14. Lovely piece, Brock, though I was thinking you were coming out as left-handed or something weird like that raspberry

    So who’s for an Ath Pride march? smile

  15. Hey TheBo$$, just letting you know there is another lefty atheist out here.  Growing up in a family of righties is tough enough!  At least I never had the religion thing to deal with.

    A couple of weeks ago, I went to a 4th-of-July cookout at my aunts house.  It was just my immediate family and we managed to get into religion briefly.  I made sure people new what I was and noone was really surprised.  As a matter of fact, from what I could figure out, nobody in my family is particularly religious.  I would qualify them between agnostic and deist, but certainly not christian.

    Keep on coming out people.  I’m still amazed at how many people are surprised to find out that there are ‘nice’ atheists.  I just have to shake my head at their ignorance.

  16. Same here with an aetheist family. I never get any good reactions when I say i’m agnostic/aetheist. I have not really pissed any one of saying that in a long time, sometimes i will get into arguments where the other person says something like “You really dont believe in god? Or go to church? Wow”.

    I like working people up into a mouth frothing state when it comes to religion. It is kind of fun to have a … well paced… argument.

    Cheers BunBun

  17. Person to person, I have never gotten into an argument about the lack of my religious belief. I am an outspoken unbeliever, but I seem to have a knack to disinvite comment.

  18. Actually it seems that face to face confrontations are rare. I certainly don’t hide the fact that I’m an atheist when the topic comes up and I think I’ve had maybe two real arguments about it with someone in a face to face situation.

    I think this is due to two things:

    1) In the face to face situations most folks have had a chance to get to know me a little already before the topic comes up so it’s a bit of a surprise for them. They end up spending most of their time trying to reconcile the fact that I’m a fairly nice and decent fellow with all the negative stuff they’ve heard about atheists and end up being too busy to argue with me about it.

    2) On the Net it’s a lot easier to hide behind your perception of anonymity and say things that you would at least think twice about saying to someone who could punch you in the mouth if you’re standing in front of them.

  19. That is likely true. I dont know about you lot but I go to a very liberal and open school. I find that people just dont care about other’s religious beliefes because there are so many different religions at my school…jewish, muslim, christian…. I suppose that the people at my school probably have the ability to look past what they have heard about aetheism. Not to mention people usually dont care as much about my out spoken religious beliefs as my long hair(and I am a boy). So to them, aetheism is the least of my problems.

    Cheers BunBun

  20. Les,

    Actually it seems that face to face confrontations are rare.

    I do agree with you and the reasons you mentioned.

    Unless I have reason to suspect otherwise, I peg the rabid True Believers one encounters online as cowards. The amount of guts it takes for some atheists to come out of the closet is nothing they could ever muster.

  21. I live in a rural area around twenty miles from a Baptist Church which still denounces interracial marriages. I have had those face to face arguments mostly with bible thumpers undeterred by my 100+ lbs. Rottweiler and “Beware of Dog” sign on the door. So much for that. Anyway, the face to face arguments bear no better results and are not any more a willingness to share ideas than they do/are online – such has been my experience (though I realize it is with people on a mission). However, the perceived possible inclination to let my dog go tends to end those arguments quicker.

  22. Wow.  For a bunch of atheists, you guys sure are eager to be up on a cross.

    It sure is tough being an atheist here in the US.  Oh wait, no it isn’t.  I’ve been an atheist and a Christian in my life, and I can honestly say it’s easier to be an atheist.  hmmm

    TheBo$$: That last line of my post is completely irrelevant; I thought part of the post was talking about coming out as gay.

    Nope, Brock is just feeling “Left-Wing Shame” because he doesn’t belong to any of the well-defined victim groups.  Not to worry: look hard enough and you’ll be able to figure out some way The Man is supposedly keeping you down.

    The underlying cause is something which psychologists call “cognitive dissonance”.  People on the left take it as an article of faith that the US is heading for disaster, that Theocracy is right around the corner, that everything is going wrong, etc.. But there’s a problem: how to reconcile all this pessimism with their day-to-day experiences?  Here they are in the US with their easy life, their vast wealth, and more personal freedoms than anywhere else in the world.  Something’s not right, they are supposed to be suffering!

    And so we get lefties like Brock here, desperate to convince others people (and by extension, himself) that things are really hard.  It ain’t easy being a left-handed atheist, believe me!!!  Yeah right, you’ve got it tough: 90% of the world’s population would trade places with you in a heartbeat.

  23. And so we get lefties like Brock here, desperate to convince others people (and by extension, himself) that things are really hard.  It ain’t easy being a left-handed atheist, believe me!!!  Yeah right, you’ve got it tough: 90% of the world’s population would trade places with you in a heartbeat.

    That’s like saying that being raped once instead of twice is much better.

    Why should we have to be raped at all?

  24. Are you left-handed Daryll (if that is your real name)? It’s tough because people are always telling you the same things: “Dude, why don’t you just become right-handed/Christian”.

    Why? That means the majority of white Christian right-handed straight men have won again. Are you that afraid of diversity? Diversity is what has made lots of countries great. The Republic of Ireland had no diversity either until recently, when lots of Africans started living there (albeit because the Irish stole them from Africa to use them as priests).

    So, how is being an atheist easy? You have to think for yourself? No security blanket of God? No looking forward to The Great Gig in the Sky™?

    It’s certainly easy — in a parallel universe. Were you talking about this?

  25. Daryl Cantrell,

    90% of the world’s population would trade places with you in a heartbeat.

    I call that “ethnocentricity” or “Nationalism.” Only 10% of the entire world would not trade places with Brock or Bo$$ or Les or even me if given the chance, heh?

    I highly doubt that is accurate. wink

  26. Heh, warbi, I first thought you were talking about the band, not the pundit.

    Shows how my mind works, eh?

  27. Daryl Cantrell said: I’ve been an atheist and a Christian in my life, and I can honestly say it’s easier to be an atheist.

    (Cue in sound of Johnny Cash singing; “I’ve been every-where, man, I’ve been every-where!”

    So your experience is normative for all the diversity that is this country?  Daryl, your life is a rather small sample for such a sweeping generalization when many atheists have encountered real discrimination.  Nor do I understand what you mean by “easier.” 

    Of course, maybe by “Christian” you mean; “constant bible thumper driving his neighbors and co-workers nuts.”  Those critters are probably just as small a percentage as atheists and may find people sometimes find others to hire/rent-to/talk-to.  That’s not anti-religious descrimination, it’s anti-jerk discrimination.

    But evangelicals are always saying Christians are the majority in this country, then turning around and whining about how persecuted they are.  Well which is it?  ‘Cuz it ain’t likely to be both.

    Being an evangelical means having the majority power and getting to whine about persecution too!  The Christian codes himself as trustworthy by putting on a popular identity, which is a lot easier than actually being trustworthy.

    An atheist has no one to fall back on for his moral identity, and in many instances starts with being perceived as amoral at best.  Nor do we get a “get out of jail free card.”

    Yes, there are other places in the world where religious persecution is really bad, but that doesn’t make such persecution as exists in this country right.

  28. I’m left handed.
    I’m a non-practicing Jew.
    I’m on my way to becoming a Nurse, and I’m male (one of two per every 25 females in the program at school).
    I’m also on my way to becoming an athiest, because given the shit that has happened to me, I’m beggining to believe that there aint no way there’s a GOD. If there is, he’s a cruel one.

    Talk about going against the grain. My catholic wife does not appreciate me telling her that I’m giving up on putting any stock in the concept of a higher power.

    Oh Well.

  29. Oh, and I cant spell sometimes.
    And I’m dyslexic.
    And I have A.D.D.

    >>sigh<<

  30. I dont see why the Christian bible thumpers just cant go there own way. Does it really matter to them if we go to hell? If they wish to praise the lord then they should be able to but if they try and convert me…. Well, then it is just not cool.

    And what about this aetheist discrimination? I have never been discriminated against for my agnostic/atheistic views. I might be in a more liberal area than you lot but why some one would go out of there way to convert/put down an atheist astounds me. According to the bible thumpers atheists are some sort of evil group of people here to corrupt the minds of the poor defenseless children. Well, if that is so what makes them think that going to church would change that? If you are mean then you are mean no matter what your religious affiliation.

    Cheers BunBun

  31. BunBun, having lived in East Tennessee, knowing employers there, I am certain an open atheist would face additional employment and rental challenges.  Secularhumanism.org has documented a number of cases where actual discrimination has taken place and resulted in legal action.  (Legal actions are a smoke/fire thing.  For every reported case, there are many unreported.) 

    Discrimination is a symptom of prejudice, and that’s the real problem.  The prejudice is real and I see it all the time.  In letters to the editor and “From The Pulpit” articles, atheists are portrayed as amoral, or evil, unpatriotic, self-serving and dishonest.  Of course Christians are never any of those things.

    If you substituted any ethnic group for “atheist” in the wide-open stereotyping that constantly goes on in the paper, on the radio, and in the workplace in my home town, you’d be in deep smell. But people who don’t believe in the invisible superfriend are fair game, apparently.

    Christians and atheists both have jerks among their number.  The difference is the Christian jerks can say or do some very disrespectful things and still be publically “respectable.”  The playing field tips severely.

  32. Warbi said: As well, IIRC, Brock has talked about his sexuality in several other threads menaing that he does belong to one of your “well-defined victim groups

  33. I dont see why the Christian bible thumpers just cant go there own way.

    It’s not really that hard to understand. Try putting yourself in their place. Pretend that you actually believe in the invisible man in the sky and that man tells you that everyone that doesn’t believe in and follow him is condemned to spend an eternity burning in hell. Now, if you are a decent human being and you run across people that you KNOW are going to spend eternity burning in hell, wouldn’t you feel obligated to try to save them?

    I don’t like it, it annoys the hell out of me, but I do understand it.

  34. I dont know if I would be happy to have more people to piss of about religion or greatly annoyed. It would be fun to point out the blatent contradictions inherant in the bible but if every one is against you then that might become tiresom if you simply get drowned out by enough people.

    My favorite contradiction is based on the monotheism that christianity so adores. In the genesis book many referances to god is in the plural. How do people explaine that away? That seems to go directly against what the christian churh is so obsessed with. And of course: the father, the son, and the holy ghost. Thats three gods if I can count. That is another little problem in the bible/christianity that I have never heard coherantly explained.

    Decrepid I like this:

    In letters to the editor and “From The Pulpit

  35. I am a female, left-handed atheist who lives in the south.  Not so long ago, I received the same email forward twice in the same week, once from my sister, and once from an old friend.  The email was an online “petition to George Bush to allow prayer in schools.” and ended with the statement “Madeline Murray-O’hair is dead – let her legacy of atheism die with her!” 

    On a normal day, I delete this stuff but I was a bit cranky.  My family should know better, so I wrote a response to my sister and my friend outlining why I felt that the petition was useless (by giving a short explanation of how our government actually works), explaining why allowing prayer in schools would be unfair (who’s prayer?  Muslims?  Buddhists? Wiccans?) and ending with some thoughts on the constitution and the separation of church and state, adding some quotes from our founding fathers for good measure. 

    The response I got back from my sister blew my mind.  I was attacked, personally and viciously.  I was informed that had it not been for “god” all manner of foul fates would have befallen me, from prostitution to death.  My sister then proceeded to tell outright lies about the supposed generosity and faithfulness of some of our family members.  It was insane.  It made me cry.  My brother and a cousin got involved to try to sooth things over.  I decided I was having none of it. 

    I got a less vicious, but no less surprising response from my friend of 12 years.  Neither of them have spoken to me since. 

    A couple weeks ago I found out that my sister has been thrown out of her house by her husband for having an affair.  Apparently she was so busy condemning my lack of morality that she forgot to mind her own.

  36. KPG said: Now, if you are a decent human being and you run across people that you KNOW are going to spend eternity burning in hell, wouldn’t you feel obligated to try to save them?

    True, and world hunger was wiped out 2000 years ago. People are so incredibly caring!

    Loris; that’s a bummer story but you spoke what you believed. That had to be the best thing you could have done.

  37. Sorry that my big mouth blew your cover, Brock! tongue wink   I know how sneaky you have been about it too- you know being the “Gay Pope” and all.  lol
      KPatrick, you make an excellent point.  I find that I don’t mind (as much) the truly well-meaning proselytizers as I do the obnoxious sanctimonious blowhards that get in your face and rant and rave.  Unfortunately, the latter seem to be, if not more numerous, at least more vocal.

  38. Warbi, as atheists we see the worst side of any christian. From their viewpoint, we are far worse than members of another religion. At least Muslims or Wiccans or so on worship SOMETHING, just not their something. We hold ourselves above them, using logic and reason to declare there is no god. By extention we are calling them all stupid and naive for believing in their deity. Our very existence insults them.

  39. Warbi good point:

    I find that I don’t mind (as much) the truly well-meaning proselytizers as I do the obnoxious sanctimonious blowhards that get in your face and rant and rave.

    I suppose that if someone came to me and, with genuine concern, asked me to believe in god I would be willing to hear them out. Simply because they are polite. People like that I can respect. I would not be inclined to actually listen to the polite person who comes to talk to me but I definitely see your point about politeness.

    I also bet that if they use a more polite means of onversion than screaming that you will go to hell if you dont follow the invisible frind they would get better results. At worst they would not be laughed at by the people they are trying to convert.

  40. I also bet that if they use a more polite means of onversion than screaming that you will go to hell if you dont follow the invisible frind they would get better results. At worst they would not be laughed at by the people they are trying to convert.

    Do you really get people screaming and raving? While I get a lot of folks attempting to convert me, I have to admit that I’ve never had a ranter. They’ve all approached me nicely with their little pamphlets and most of them take the inevitable rejection rather well.

  41. From their viewpoint, we are far worse than members of another religion.

    I beg to differ. If my experience on religious forums is representative, the majority of invective is directed towards members of closely related, similar religions. Atheist bashing is rare and mostly a hobby of some usual suspects.

  42. I, personally, have never had the experiance of any one seriously trying to convert me. I live in too liberal an area for that type of stuff. But I have heard all about people shouting and argueing. I dont have any real experiance in the field of conversion (and I hope it stays that way) so I cant say my opinions are bound to be acurate.

    Maybe we just hear about the screamers simply because thay make themselves heard in a MUCH more vocal way—screaming their ass of. Every now and then when I tell people I do not believe in god they are incredulious and ask how can I not believe in god? My usual answer to that is: “how can you believe in god?” They have far less evidence for the existance of god than I have for the lack of existance of god.

    Although, some times, I think it would be nice to get some bible thumper shouting at me. I think that really takes away from their argument. People who are screaming their agruments out are probably doing that because they are trying to drown out the opposition with noise because they know they are full of shit. If you cant reply to their arguments because of their screaming then how can youp make a defense against the mindless following of a transendental force? I guess that may be their logic? I dont know…I guess people who dont believe in god dont deserve a legitimate argument?

    Cheers BunBun

  43. Hell, I live here in the Holyland (Tulsa, OK) and have to put up with religion every day. Christians down here are different. In most places, Christians say they can get to Heaven by avoiding sin; in Oklahoma, the plan to get to Heaven by making their neighbors avoid sin. the plain fact is that the World would be a much better place if all the religionists lived as if they actually believed. In twenty years in Oklahoma, I don’t think I have met more than a half dozen who acted like they really believed in Jesus. I can stand those people, but the rest just make my stomache churn. It really is Hell trying to live as a liberal, tree hugging, born-again atheist in this neck of the woods. And it’s so much fun pissing them off. It took eight years, but the local Baptist preacher finally gave up on me. Also, good news, enough good folks rebelled against the latest crap, and managed to keep the creationist display out of the local zoo. See, we aren’t all hicks.

  44. Hicks…. Lol. I agree:

    In most places, Christians say they can get to Heaven by avoiding sin; in Oklahoma, the plan to get to Heaven by making their neighbors avoid sin.

    Just dont forget to add that by making one’s neighbors avoid sin negates any sin they may have done(no matter how insidious).

    I wonder what people here would get out of Nietzche(spelling?). From the very little I read of him he blames all of the worlds problems on christianity. Its weakness specifically. He believed that christianity made humanity weak, forgiving, and charitable through christianity. I guess he never visited little villages in the middle of texas that believe that all non christians should be purged in order to make humanity a better place(could not help but pick o texas).

    Cheers BunBun

  45. Same here with an aetheist family. I never get any good reactions when I say i’m agnostic/aetheist. I have not really pissed any one of saying that in a long time, sometimes i will get into arguments where the other person says something like “You really dont believe in god? Or go to church? Wow

  46. I’d say most Christians in Amerikkka tend to be pretty open about various other Christian franchises (Baptist, Pentacostal, Catholic, Mormon, etc), even about Judaism, Islam and other mostly monotheic beLIEf systems.  Because they buy into this new-age (rhymes with “sewage”) idea “well, we are all really worshipping the same Gawwwd—just by different names.

    But they truly are at a loss, and see you as an evil alien being if you “come out” to them as an atheist.

    Running my own business in a small town, even in a liberal part of the USA – I’d be screwed out of a lot of work if I was very publically outspoken about it.  And, really – I shouldn’t need to be, everybody should be able to beLIEve whatever idiocy they want to as long as they don’t involve me in it (or my taxes, laws, children in wars, but thats another story).  So, I generally just behind the scenes leave stickers and flyers about, put comments on money, and etc—but only really talk about religion/spirituality when somebody makes some idiotic superstitious comment to me.

    There was one yesterday evening “and here kids, the book most families in the world have – the Bible”. Said the librarian to a group of kids (includeing mine).  I quietly afterwards pointed out “book every family has? Did you know 2/3rds of humanity are NOT Christian?”  She didn’t believe me! I said, “your a librarian, look it up!”

    Grrrr. I’m sure she dutifully submitted my name to the Ministry of Homeland Security, for not behaving like a good ‘Merikan!

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