Why I am afraid to admit to being and atheist in real life in the US.

by JonathanH 16 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • JonathanH

    I live in the bible belt in the US, atheism is a major taboo. On the internet I occasionally feel like atheism is normal and just another accepted demographic, but that's largely because I hang around places with lots of atheists. Then I see the other side.

    This is an op ed article that Atheist Jerry Coyne wrote today, it's on how you don't need god to be good. It's a fine article, not his best writing, but given the brevity of the article he gets he point across.


    The hard part to read is the comments where most commenters imply that atheists are ammoral nihilists who know god exists but deny it because of our wickedness.

    Or this snap shot of the fox news audience


    where the fox news facebook page is quickly overtaken by violent threats against atheists after one appears on fox news.

    Any time I get comfortable being an atheist I am quickly reminded that most of the people in the country I live in are still extremely prejudiced against people who don't share their religious beliefs. For that reason I am still extremely wary of telling some one that I don't believe in gods in real life.

    I am thankful I'm not being tarred and feathered, or curb stomped like minorities in the past, and I certainly don't think I have it as bad as minority demographics in the past have had it. But when I hear people complain about militant atheism and how horrid it is I think of the comments pages on Richard Dawkins website, or PZ meyers or jerry coyne's and notice the distinct lack of violent threats.

  • Robdar

    I'm not an atheist but I can relate to how you feel. I'm a Jew in the Bible Belt.

  • JonathanH

    That also sucks robdar.Really it sucks to be anything but a white christian in the bible belt, though at least in urbanized areas you can be a black christian and it's still ok.

  • EntirelyPossible

    Where in the bible belt do you guys live? I also live in the BB and if someone doesn't like that I am an atheist, they can suck it hard.

  • Robdar

    Totally, Jon. It is amazing how quickly people will stop liking you once they find out you're not a Christian. Still, I am sure it must be much harder for you being an atheist. Christians are curious about Jewish beliefs. If Christians find out somebody is an atheist, they get their backs up.

  • Robdar

    LOL @ EP. You are my new board hero!

    I currently live in Joplin, MO. Although bothersome, the Christians are still rather sweet to me. However, I converted in Kansas City. It is there that I lost friends and neighbors over my conversion.

  • poopsiecakes

    I was recently in Tulsa for work (the buckle of the bible belt so I'm told) and one of my colleagues there was telling me about a situation with his drug addict ex and the custody battles he's been dealing with. It's a truly sad situation, but he made the comment that 'if she'd only love Jesus she'd be ok'. I listened and sympathized with his issues but told him that people make choices in life regardless of what they believe, that prisons are full of Jesus lovers and it's up to each individual to take responsibility for their actions and that there are plenty of people who don't believe at all who live clean and happy lives. He stopped and thought about that - really thought about it - and agreed that I was right. We didn't have to get into a huge battle about whose beliefs are right but a seed was planted that hopefully makes him think twice before judging others. That's all anyone can hope for in that part of the world...

  • sabastious

    I am a theist, but I try to understand atheists and this video seems to sum their perspective on this matter well:



  • NewChapter

    I feel your pain. Sometimes I'm surprised when I hear some christians, not all, say that THEY are the persecuted group because we ask that they not to force our children to pray, and ask that evolution be taught etc. I really think people don't understand what happens when we admit to being atheists.


  • EntirelyPossible

    I live in NC in the sticks. One of my neighbors is a felon that converted hardcore to Jesus in prison and is now on the straight and narrow, we get along great. Once he asked me about my opinion on something in the Bible and I asked him if he wanted my personal thoughts on the matter or how I felt a Christian should parse it. He couldn't care less about my religious beliefs, he just says I seem like a good person and always treated him well and never judged him on the past, just the man he is today.

    Others have told me they were worried about my soul. My answer was "That makes one of us. Thanks for your concern."

    If someone has so little of a foundation in themselves that they get all hot and bothered about what *I* think when I don't go around bothering them with it or telling them, well, then they can go sit in the damn corner and cry me a river.

    Having said that, when I am at a family gathering or something, I will often just keep silent on the matter because I don't want to answer 10000 questions or deal with it on what is supposed to be a friendly occassion. I will never join in the ultra Baptist praise Jesus stuff, I just say "Yes Aunt Mary, the potato salad IS delicious as always. You know I love the way you put pickles and mustard in it." In the back of my mind I am adding "And I would nail Jesus to a cross for a second helping" but I never actually say that.

    Mainly because I want more potato salad. Baptist can throw down at a family cookout.

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