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Question for Atheists and Agnostics (and anyone who falls on that "faith" spectrum)

A question that was posed here a few days ago, in addition to a mailing I received (as a result of my inquiring about the Constitutionality of the Gideons coming on public school property to distribute their religious materials) lead me to wonder a few questions about my fellow Freethinkers.

One question is:  Do you keep your lack of faith in faith a secret?  I don't mean do you go around broadcasting that you're Atheist, but if religion comes up in conversation, do you acknowledge that you don't share the same (or any) faith in a deity?

Another question pertains to the mailing I received.  I contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation as one of the several resources I used to determine whether activities in my daughter's school were in violation of the First Amendment (they were).  In contacting that particular group via the Internet, I received a mailing from them with their Freethought Today newspaper.  It's an interesting read, full of stories of people who are deciding to "come out" and profess their status as non-religious. 

In the newspaper is a website (http://ffrf.org/out/) where you can go and create your own cyber billboard that "outs" you.  The FFRF chooses among those to make real billboards although, of course, not all can be made into one.

Would you do it?  Would you promote yourself as a Freethinker like that?  Christians, and people of other faiths as well, have no problem identifying themselves to their faiths, and often make it a main topic of conversation, but Atheists are often regarded as somehow wicked, odd, or "less than" when they dare to mention that they don't hold any belief in a supernatural deity.  Yet, I believe, there are many more of us than one might think.  I've learned that other people where I live were upset with the Bible History class that's being taught at our local middle/high school, and there have been other complaints about Christians trying to push their beliefs in the schools and other public arenas--but those "others" are in the closet as far as I know.  I've only met one other person in my immediate area who would admit to me that she's Atheist--but she is afraid to let anyone else know because she's afraid she'd lose her job and that she and her kids would be ostracized.

I'm less worried about that, but I don't broadcast my lack of belief in the same way that believers (at least around here) broadcast their beliefs.  I don't want to be ostracized, and I've watched with distress as my daughter has been harassed by other students because she doesn't go to church or believe in god, but I always wonder why?  Why is it such a big deal that we don't believe what others believe?

So, to make this question more clear, here it is (multi-part):

Do you keep your Freethinker status private?  If so, why?  Is it fear of how friends/family perceive you?  Do you fear retribution or ostracizing?  How "public" are you with your thoughts on religion?

Do you want/wish you could be as open about being Agnostic or Atheist as Christians are about their faith--without worrying about some sort of retribution?  

Would you ever go so far as to make such a public announcement as to put yourself on a message like the one in the FFRF link? 

Answer Question
 
jsbenkert

Asked by jsbenkert at 5:13 PM on May. 20, 2011 in Religious Debate

Level 37 (89,331 Credits)
Answers (28)
  • If their is a a religious debate I make my views very clear. My whole family is Mormon and they all know my views on religion. I'm proud of my views and I find no need to hide them from anyone and yes I would broadcast it. Why be ashamed of something you believe in even if that something is nothing.
    Eisleysmommy27

    Answer by Eisleysmommy27 at 5:17 PM on May. 20, 2011

  • I myself do not attend church. The reason is my own. I don't see how broadcasting or jumping into a "religious debate" with religious people and making it a point to tell them I do not believe in what they do. Where exactly do you live where you are ostracized over your personal beliefs? I suggest moving to a more forgiving place or at least a town where everyone minds their own business. I don't think that if you are an athiest, christian, what have you , that you should have to broadcast it. It's ridiculous.
    Bugzmomma

    Answer by Bugzmomma at 5:20 PM on May. 20, 2011

  • Do you want/wish you could be as open about being Agnostic or Atheist as Christians are about their faith--without worrying about some sort of retribution?

    I think you'll find members of all other faiths (or non-faiths) want that. Unfortunately, the regions of the country where that's really possible, without some sort of retribution, are few and far between.
    NotPanicking

    Answer by NotPanicking at 5:22 PM on May. 20, 2011

  • My feelings are if people throw their religion in my face and try to convince me I should convert to whatever religion it is or why I should believe in god I will tell them my reasoning why I don't need to believe in anything to be happy. They have their point of views and will tell me about them so I will tell them about mine.
    Eisleysmommy27

    Answer by Eisleysmommy27 at 5:23 PM on May. 20, 2011

  • I keep it private, as I wish other people would. To me religion is very personal, and I really don't care what others believe unless they try imposing those beliefs on others. I try to be as respectful as I can if I know someone holds certain rules, like not eating pork or no swearing, but otherwise I just want to know the person for who they are, not what god they follow.

    Living in the bible belt, I've heard horrible stories of how non-Christians have be treated, so I'd rather not bring that negativity into my life. I would stand up for anyone being mistreated so (as I would if a Christian being bullied), but so far I haven't seen it.

    Religion is divisive, pitting one group against another even between denominations. In an ideal world, I would like to see everyone accepting of other beliefs, but it's human nature to be competitive.
    anng.atlanta

    Answer by anng.atlanta at 5:24 PM on May. 20, 2011

  • I agree--I find nothing to be ashamed of, but in this part of the country (Bible Belt--the very buckle, I think), it weighs heavily on how one is treated. It seems silly to me, but it's true. My older daughter has been harassed at school when her classmates learned that she isn't Christian, and so have a couple of other non-Christian classmates. I really wish I knew more Atheists in my area so that we could at least know we have company. 


    There's a lot of social pressure around here to belong to a church, and it does seem to affect things like promotions (this is the case with my friend's husband--he started to get more recognition at work after he joined his boss's church) and social acceptance.

    jsbenkert

    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 5:25 PM on May. 20, 2011

  • if someone ask me what my beliefs are than i tell them other than that i keep it to myself cause its nobodies business.
    sleepinglotus

    Answer by sleepinglotus at 5:25 PM on May. 20, 2011

  • I am pretty sure that my husband whole side of the family and all our friends, co-workers, acquaintances on facebook, etc all know we are atheist.
    The only ppl I don't want finding out are my parents. I mean, they know we don't go to church, they know we did not baptize our daughter and will not be doing so with this 2nd one either. They are aware my husband is an atheist, but since I moved out of their house and stopped attending church they don't know what I believe and they don't discuss it with me which is good. I don't want to fight about religeon with my parents.
    So besides them i am very very out of the closet and I would not mind having a buildboard at all! :)
    ladysylpher

    Answer by ladysylpher at 5:26 PM on May. 20, 2011

  • I have nothing to prove to anyone. I am not going to publicly broadcast myself like that for no reason. No one needs to know my belief but if someone were to ask sure, I would simply say, "I don't believe in an actual god figure"
    jujubean1979200

    Answer by jujubean1979200 at 5:28 PM on May. 20, 2011

  •  No I don't keep it a secret but don't feel the need to bring it up just for the sake of bringing it up either.  If someone is talking about their faith I don't feel the need to bring it up unless they are telling me what I should think.


    Honestly I just don't make a big deal about it once in awhile my brother will make a comment that he still has faith that one day I will believe its not him saying I should or doesn't respect that I don't.  I have been in friends weddings in a church because its more about their marriage then the fact that its in a church for both them and me.  When a friend or family member says they are praying for me I just say thank you.  They know what I believe but I there heart is in the right place when they say it. 

    Charis76

    Answer by Charis76 at 5:31 PM on May. 20, 2011

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