Should atheists, especially former theists be out about their atheism? Should friends, families and other relevant people be told that there is a non-believer in the midst? I think so.
I have been an Ã¢â‚¬ËœoutÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ atheist since I was 13. I am not going to lie and say the last 20 years have been completely rosy. It has not. I have relatives that utterly despise me for being an atheist. A man I saw for some time flipped out when he found out I was an atheist. A good friend and I went our separate ways when she became an out and out God-pusher.
On the other hand, I have never had a problem finding other atheists. No, there are not many of us, but you would be amazed at how many non-believers play the god game. Most of the atheists I have met have been oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s that pretend to believe or claim fake Ã¢â‚¬ËœdoubtsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
Therefore, without further ado, here are some reasons for coming out:
- Stress - staying in the closet is emotionally draining and consistently lying to those you care most about is going to hurt you in the end. It is immensely stressful and generates tons of guilt. This becomes worse because you have to keep up appearances. When Auntie B says it was a miracle that her tomatoes grew Ã¢â‚¬â€œ you have to clamp your jaw shut and hope she did not notice that initial look on your face. If the pastor claims Group XYZ is in league with the devil Ã¢â‚¬â€œ again you have to smile. In addition, when you slip (and you will), you have to come up with a theistic reason for the slip because the last thing you want to do is announce youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re an atheist in the middle of an argument, eh?
- Isolation Ã¢â‚¬â€œ if you act like a believer that is who you are going to know. Perhaps it is not fair or nice, but this is how we all seem to be. Our friends tend to be those who are similar to us. If you have decided to pretend a theist, you probably are not going to know that many atheists. I read a theistÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s testimony on how he pretended to be an atheist in order to fit in with a certain group that eschewed religion. In addition to the stress, he was completely isolated from other believers. His stress was only relieved when he found friends that were like him Ã¢â‚¬â€œ believers in Christianity to be exact.
- Wasted time & Loss of Opportunities – as a pretend theist, you are going to expected to participate in the things your religion of choice believes one should do. This can be anything from attending services to eschewing certain activities, foods, books, movies and people. Do not forget your bank account either because you generally have to prove you are a believer by donating your cash also.
- Busted Ã¢â‚¬â€œ unless you have less than a year left to live, it will become known. People do not like being lied to, even if it is by omission. They might lie to themselves about the nature of your disbelief, but you are going to be in the doghouse for lying to them. They may or may not get over it. I have heard of people being forgiven for being an atheist, but not forgiven for lying about it.
- Respect & Tolerance Ã¢â‚¬â€œ most theists do not personally know an atheist (mad at god ABC theist/deists excluded). What they know was taught to them by pastors and other believers. It is quite easy to believe such stereotypes as long as the Ã¢â‚¬ËœotherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ remains a phantom.
That said there are legitimate reasons for temporarily remaining in the closet such as job loss, becoming homeless and physical attacks. But, as I said this should be temporary. If you have rational reasons to fear such a consequence, it is probably in your best interest to move.
This was my situation between 13 and 18. My maternal aunt declared I could go to church or I could get out. A ward of the court, there was not much of choice. Thus, I attended church for the next five years. I moved out the day after I graduated.
Overall, though, things have been good. The people who took their ball and stormed home, I honestly cannot say that I care about that. Why regret parting ways with bigots? Life is far too short for things like that.