Posted by: Hope | April 3, 2008

Coming Out the Closet

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After having called myself an Agnostic Atheist for quite a while now, I’ve come to the conclusion that the most difficult part about doing so is “coming out of the closet.” I’d love to sit here and say it has been easy and everyone has been really acceptant and understanding, but reality would have to disagree with you. There are a lot of people that are well aware of my Atheism and there are a lot of (important) people that do not. This would include my parents, one of my brothers, and well…most of my family. I don’t really intend on telling any of them anytime soon, but surely it will get out eventually. And the thought of that scares the living hell out of me. I am the type of person that doesn’t care what someone thinks about me, but when it comes to family? I just can’t cope when someone I love (usually family) doesn’t approve of my actions, beliefs, and shows disappointment or worry towards me. I can honestly say that I am worried of how my parents would react if they were aware that I do not believe in god. I mean, we’re not really the church-going type of family, but we surely express the fact that there is a god, Jesus is cool, and that prayer is important. That right there is enough for me to be afraid of what they would think of me had I “come out of the closet.”

And the thing that really sucks is that there really isn’t a “good” way of going about telling someone, and if there is–I sure as hell am not aware of it. I mean the only way I can see it happening is the basic “well…I’ve got some bad news” And then they get all worried and start tripping and your like “well, after a lot of thought and reflection I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no god.” And then they’re like “oh shit! curse you! I don’t want you to burn in hell!!” And well, thats the end of it. Now doesn’t THAT sound like a bag of cookies?

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I suppose I’m being irrational. Not every person I’ve actually told has reacted like that. There’s the people that subtly tell you that they think you are a moron and have no reason to not believe. I almost would rather have someone be worried about me than think I’m an idiot. Cause if I was an idiot, I would never have put such deep thought into something so serious. I suppose that is the way I look at it.

So to conclude: coming out of the closet sucks…and I’m not looking forward to it. I wish more people were more acceptant of peoples religious decisions, but they aren’t. So–Americans are idiots. Thats the way I see it. Why is a place that is based and formed off of the concept of “freedom of religion” going to be so damn judgmental on religious concepts. It’s shit like this why we will never have a non-Christian President.

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Responses

  1. Oh, good luck with your situation. It is sad how villified atheism is, especially when compared to the freedom allowed to religions. I guess if you’re going to tell your parents it might be an idea to have answers worked out in your mind and to saty calm. Maybe a book explaining the agnostic/athesit position for them…You could drop heavy hints to suggest you’re thinking of having a sex change which might make the eventual confession something of a relief..:) Obvious advice I suppose, and not a very helpful reply…But good luck, I hope it works out for you..

    • Genuinely pathetic, if your family won’t accept you refusing to believe the same superstition as you they do they’re fucking idiots. Your family sounds like they need a kick up the arse, how arrogant of them, then again, you could just be over thinking this and they will be fine about it, it’s is not for one person to decide what another believes, this is how religion is carried on, why does a faith need to be enforced with fear and expectations?

      What a load of bollocks.

      • Bound,

        Well, this blog is a few years old, and within the last year or two I have told my parents, unwillingly, what I believe. When I began dating someone (who is now my ex) they asked if he believed in god, when I said no, they then continued to ask if I believed in god. At this point, I was pretty much forced to come out and tell the what I now believe, or lack thereof. It did not turn out very well, and still today my father, especially, will go into deep debates, and concerned conversations with my every 3 months or so. It gets annoying, but I go along with it only to allow him to get off his chest what he really feels. I fully allow him to believe what he wants, but when he begins to diminish me and who I am for what I believe, that is when I get upset and stick up for myself.

  2. Good luck with all this. All my life my family’s gone to church, even if we’re not terribly religious, but I’ve never believed in any God, unlike the rest of my family. They forced me to all the Masses, all the Sunday School classes… I recently broke it to them that I refuse to get confirmed. They weren’t too happy. My mother actually cried. But they accepted my decision because they know that that’s part of who I am. I’m so glad I stood up to their beliefs, I feel like I have kept my integrity. I hope your parents and the rest of your family can come to terms with that too.

  3. I’m with Lucy in wishing you luck in this. Some of us have it easier. My wife is also an atheist and actually has been for longer than me. My other close family is mostly accepting of it, though many are not thrilled.

    Luckily for me, being in New York, there are many atheists. Also, a particularly high percentage of NYC computer programmers are atheists. So, most of my coworkers are also atheists or agnostics, some are even as antitheistic as I am.

    I’m not sure if I can really offer you anything that will help in conversations with loved ones. Pointing out things like violent crime being lower in countries with higher percentages of atheists, atheists considering life even more precious than the religious because when it’s over it’s really over, the violence and divisiveness of the bible, etc. are all unlikely to help with those who have strong beliefs.

    Perhaps they will help if you have family that is agnostic or at least less sure in their beliefs these things might help. Pointing them at various books might also help. I would avoid obviously antagonistic books like God Delusion and End of Faith. But, The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins or Full House by Stephen Jay Gould may give some a hint of where you are coming from.

    Sorry, I can’t really give you more help than that. People who love you will likely understand, unless they are so strongly religious that they would simply mourn your death. Luckily none of my close family is that religious, though some of my more distant family might if they cared about me enough and if I cared enough to tell them.

  4. Never had any idea becoming an atheist and conveying this fact to family and relatives would be so hard in the US. Or is this phenomenon restricted to a small section of highly devotional Christians?

    Its been six years since I dumped Hinduism and no one in the immediate family really cared about it. Only reason I can put that down to is Hindus go to hell only if they commit a grave sin. And if you go and take a dip in the Ganges, even those sins are washed away. Nice isn’t it.

    Anyway, if you really don’t care about peoples opinions, you should go right ahead and break the news. There is no point making one’s personal life hell by staying in the ‘religious closet’. If familial relationships are not based on the individual per se, but on their various attributes, there is no point to it, is there?

    About the convincing part, it is an impossible task, if you ask me (there is no one in the world who can convince me that God exists; similarly, no one can convince my grandmother that Hindu gods are mythological characters!). You can try, but it will only lead away from the main point and might lead to heated arguments.

    Science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God. As long as people don’t start killing each other on this point, I would say to each his own.

  5. An atheist is still interested in god in an opposite way, where as an agnostic is like a cat on the fence. The agnostic hopes one day the signs will show and based on that they will jump to that side of the fence.
    -UGK

    Humans are basically animals and our body biochemistry is not much different from other animal species. Our ability for logical analysis and thinking has created the concept of god or no god to fill in that empty void. Animals are neither, atheists, agnostic or believers. They eat sleep breed and die. This is in actuality what man also does, regardless of whether he/she is a artist, scientist, president, criminal, or priest. Our troubles are our own making and fate is determined by one’s character. And character is the involuntary behaviour expressed as the sum total of the genetic, environmental and social conditioning we all receive as children. Easy way to imagine this would be to bring up children born in one culture in another culture before their cognistic awareness develops, and you will be surprised.

    Organized religions have caused more harm than good. They operate by planting into innocent heads the concept of guilt. That is why you see all religions operate a -catch ’em young- policy. Therefore accepting that you are an atheist or agnostic or whatever, cannot be described as coming out of the closet. This is in fact your guilt that is operating and therefore the choice of word!

    If there were a true religion there should have been only one of its kind. We on the contrary see a wide range of beliefs, and practices within major religions, and how they are fragmenting day by day. These words are used by those who are still under the influence of such thought process. The purpose of religion was perhaps to prevent us from getting at each other’s throat, as it is man is inherently violent by nature. And violence need not be just physical, but psychological for eg. racism, the respectability hierarchy practised in traditional societies, and various other forms of bias. Some religions even encouraged them.

    Whatever you are, it may be wise to not be trapped in the words created by human mind.

  6. sorry to hear about your situation. it’s truly frustrating when people do not accept others’ religious views.

    the bible even speaks on the subject itself. it’s not a matter of tolerance, it’s one thing to accept/tolerate/allow different religions, giving them undue respect and a confusing ‘even level’ with your own religion because obviously ‘your religion’ (or, religious point of view, in the case of atheism) is obviously the best and right one right? lol.

    i know it’s been a while since you have written this so this is probably now all behind you, but i wanted to share my empathy. i am a Christian myself, and i hate (yea, it’s a strong word) when people refuse to accept life for what it is. people who avoid the truth are just plain dangerous in all senses of the word. this is why in many cases i respect atheists more than fellow Christians because atheists are more likely to have a respect and desire for truth rather than propaganda and trying to enforce things on people they aren’t interested in.

  7. CHRISTIANITY:

    The belief that some cosmic Jewish Zombie
    can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh
    and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master,
    so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present
    in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake
    to eat from a magical tree.

    Makes perfect sense…

  8. Just wanted to offer support really, and say … well done!

    Kia Kaha!
    (Stay strong)

    Jason

  9. Did you check the date on this post, Jason?

  10. well good luck doing it.
    u could always come live in the UK were the majority of ppl are atheists and creationists are laughed at and persicuted in a similar way by the sound of it as atheists from the us xD

  11. Move to Canada. In the big urban centres no one will care!

  12. I was raised in a devote mormon family. I stopped believing at the age of eleven or so. I admitted my lack of belief to myself and everyone else at the age of fourteen. From then on, I just studied up and would argue with all of the morons at my church. I always would make them look and feel like idiots. Good times…

    I dunno, there comes a point when you just say “Fuck it.” Then you come to find that there are a lot of people who think like you do. After I left the church two of my brothers admitted their lack of belief too. Right now, most of my friends are non-believers. There really are more of us than you would think. Unless you already have, it’s better just to be outright with what you think about unfalsifiable bullshit.

  13. […] (“Motivational” pic via Hope Lounge) […]

  14. Instead of “Well I have some bad news for you all,” which really sets an unpleasant tone from the start … how about “You know, I really don’t believe that” in response to something about god?

    That way, you aren’t telling them they’re going to be upset, and then following it up with “I’m a member of the most-despised group in America.” Rather, you’re sharing a bit of what goes on inside your head, of what your own inner light burns on.

    • “of what your own inner light burns on.”–Forrest(but no trees!)

      Well, there’s no light in there to speak of. She’s judged everything using her own selfish apathy as the ‘standard.’ It’s like going to math class and sitting on your ass denying the sure fact that mathematical laws exist despite the fact that you care to know them or not. There’s no intellectual pursuit about those who are too lazy to take a real and more honest look at the case Christianity clearly makes against all other faiths (including the generally apathetic atheism) which should include historical prophecy. Take the fact of God calling Cryus (the Great) by name almost 200 years before the man was actually born and assuming the world leadership God wanted him to have for His purposes. Take the fact that a mere man like Jesus was able to heal so well it pissed off chronic naysayers like you. Take the fact that scripture declared that the nation of Israel would be born in a day, and it was!!! In scripture God says, “I knew you were stubborn…so I’m telling you these things now [before you were even born, so that you are without excuse.]” You can’t stop the Truth, that’s for sure. But you can pretend to hide from it like a petulant child who merely prefers perversity as a self-justified personal taste to what, again, simply demands more intellectual vigor and integrity to any truth outside serving yourselves than you care to muster. Sad. In that context, perhaps all the ‘gay’ness should suit quite well. And I’m sure it really wouldn’t surprise you either…

  15. Odd how all of the comments from non-believers have been kind and supportive while the one remark from a supposed Christian seems quite mean and deliberately hurtful.

    That said, I’m not gonna use this one quote to label all Christians as terrible. Most Christians, like most people, are lovely, sweet and fabulous. Echoz, on the basis of this one comment, perhaps has issues.

  16. Lucy, that’s exactly what I was thinking as I was going through the process of approving the commenting. It was mostly just offensive, and only supported my point that admitting you’re an atheist, in most areas (in America, at least, I don’t know about elsewhere) is like coming out of the closet, a similar experience to homosexuals.

  17. **sigh** (shake’s head with dissapointed)


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