How hard is it to come out as an atheist where you live?

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Discussion by: Eddie Brazil
Hello, everyone.

I have been a fan of Prof. Dawkins for years and I absolutely admire him for everything he’s done to make people aware of the delusion of religions and all the harm they cause.
I am a Brazilian citizen and I have traveled and lived abroad and, boy, I can say I had my share of cultural exchange here and there.

Here in Brazil it’s not a big deal to say you’re an atheist. People won’t care much about your beliefs, as long as you behave and interact socially in an appropriate and acceptable manner.
I was raised as a Roman Catholic (as if I had a choice when they baptized me) just like the majority of kids here in Brazil are. Some members of my family go to church every Sunday, but there was never a single fuss over me becoming an atheist. I was never a very religious boy, didn’t even go to church, but I inevitably ended up an atheist after living in countries where people had different gods.

I know, however, that in some places it’s not just simple as that. And I am not referring to the obvious regions of the world ruled by Islamism. I am talking about developed or developing countries, like mine.
Anyone would care to share personal this kind of info based on georgraphic regions here?

Thanks.

40 COMMENTS

  1. Hello Everyone:
    No religion has ever made any sense to me. I don’t understand the purpose of it. I’ve gotten along very well without it during my six decades on this planet. I am of good moral character, I contribute to society and help out people whenever I can.
    I am a Canadian citizen and in this country people don’t seem to care whether you are an atheist or not. There are numerous religions here but for the most part, people seem to respect an individual’s beliefs.

    I believe if everyone in the world was an atheist or if everyone was of the same faith, the world would be a much more peaceful and safer place to live.

    I don’t know how a person of normal logic and common sense can believe that somekind of superpower exists in the absence of any physical evidence to support that belief. The theory that a god exists is totally illogical, absurd and utter and complete nonsense! It’s like believing in the existence of “Peter Pan”, “Santa Claus” and the “Tooth Fairy”. It’s all mythology – science fiction at its best!

    Thank you.

  2. I live in France and, among co-workers, at a party or on a first date, I’m pretty sure one pays a price for coming out as… a Christian. I’m a teacher and we even have a closet creationist among us. (He whispered something once to me, about our “pseudo ancestor” Australopithecus). The only believers I knew personally were my late grand mothers (my grand fathers were communists). I once met a Christian girl online. Only 350 000 people demonstrated today against gay marriage (over 60 millions French). We’ve had a serious team of atheist pop singers in the 50′s (Brassens, Brel, Ferré…) who wrote very smart and popular songs against catholic priests. And anyway, we’re supposed to have killed them all in 1789. I have to look for Jehovah witnesses to pass my nerves on.

    As a result, we don’t get much debates about atheism. I got most of my knowledge on the subject from English speaking websites and a couple of English books. French philosopher Michel Onfray wrote an “Atheology treaty”, but it’s very weak compared to the God Delusion, for example. (Mostly pointing out impossible claims from the Bible or the Coran). And so it comes as a problem when we have to deal with moderate and fundamentalist Islam. The most verbal opposition to Islam in France comes from the (sometimes Christian) extreme right, and where Jean-Marie Lepen (retiring extreme right politician) used to use the word “immigrant”, his daughter Marine Lepen now uses the word “muslim” to sell the same racist bullshit.

    And by the way, as you might have heard, French president François Hollande declared war yesterday on the “islamists” in Mali (“Islamiste” meaning Islam fundamentalist, as opposed as “musluman” that just means Muslim). I would have preferred a war on all religious fundamentalisms, including our own lunatic homophobic Christians demonstrators, but I don’t rule France.

    So, we basically can’t have a debate on how stupid religions are, because we quickly become specific about Islam (the Christian beast being, as mentioned earlier, dying), and so we seem to be specifically targeting ethnic minorities. We are supposed to respect religions and especially Islam, as you can see here on this poster published by the “collective against islamophobia in France” and that reads “We (also) are the Nation. Islamophobia is not a point of view, it’s an offence under French law.” (Which is bullshit. It is not illegal. Freedom of speech is not guaranteed by our constitution, but we can criticize ideologies, including religious ones. Islam is not an ethnic group. )

    And the more you dig out, on philosophy forums for example, the more you unearth a kind of deistic/agnostic consensus among clean cut intellectuals (you know like “you can’t disprove the existence of God” kind of crap, and the simple fact that they use “God” instead of “gods” clearly reveals the unspoken bias). So I can play there my outspoken strident atheist (even before reading The God Delusion, but boy, did I get better at it with that book).

    So I have a feeling religious roots are not buried that deep. No newspaper supported Charlie-Hebdo when they published copies of the Danish Muhammad Cartoons. As all French presidents, François Hollande has been made “Chanoine de Latran” by the pope ( but didn’t go there to receive the honour. Sarkozy did, though). Not one French politician dared to suggest that an institution composed only of single males had no legitimacy to legislate about marriage. But well, we are getting gay marriage, our president lives with a woman he is not married with (so he risks death penalty if he goes to Saudi Arabia), and there is absolutely no current threat on the teaching of evolution, even in Christian private schools. That’s not bad, but that is feeble and spineless secularism, ill equipped to face a revival of street prayers and religious privileges claims by the growing Muslim community. Which are not a bad lot if you can ignore that they believe they are in telepathic contact with the omniscient creator of the Universe.

    And by the way, I mentioned I’m a teacher. Well, my students, last year, produced this very good but blasphemous short movie, but would not have dared making the same about Muhammad. (English subtitles if you click on the button)

  3. Hi,
    I live in western Europe. I do not give my country or area of origin, out of principle. I dislike facebook for the very same reason. I have not come out of the closet if you like because of my mother and father. I like them very much and I don’t want to hurt their feelings. I may do so in the future when the time is right.

  4. “I believe if everyone in the world was an atheist or if everyone was of the same faith, the world would be a much more peaceful and safer place to live.”

    That’s a naive thought. A world where everyone had the same faith or belief system would be disgusting and obviously tyrannical.

    In reply to #2 by bdonohue:

    Hello Everyone:
    No religion has ever made any sense to me. I don’t understand the purpose of it. I’ve gotten along very well without it during my six decades on this planet. I am of good moral character, I contribute to society and help out people whenever I can.
    I am a Canadian citizen and in this country people don’t seem to care whether you are an atheist or not. There are numerous religions here but for the most part, people seem to respect an individual’s beliefs.

    I believe if everyone in the world was an atheist or if everyone was of the same faith, the world would be a much more peaceful and safer place to live.

    I don’t know how a person of normal logic and common sense can believe that somekind of superpower exists in the absence of any physical evidence to support that belief. The theory that a god exists is totally illogical, absurd and utter and complete nonsense! It’s like believing in the existence of “Peter Pan”, “Santa Claus” and the “Tooth Fairy”. It’s all mythology – science fiction at its best!

    Thank you.

  5. I live in Canada. As far as it goes, being an atheist is the norm where I am from. I am a preacher-turned-atheist who attended a Catholic secondary school. I can say that at least 50% of the students were atheists (despite not knowing the reasons they were, other than they just disliked the rules they were brought up with) and there was a large percent of 30% agnostic, the rest were protestant or catholic by belief.

    The reigning social constructs are fairly agnostic, however there are large pockets of Atheism. For instance, in the workplace, you can say you are a Christian. You will sacrifice some friendship, as well as suffering ridicule, from outspoken atheists, again who (the large percentage where I am) have no idea why they are an atheist other than rejection of church control. The large part of the area is agnostic, or pretends to be, because religion is fairly mocked. As a minister I understand quite comprehensively, based on talking with parishioners, the attitude of the larger portion of my area is one of agnosticism and tolerance. It is very easy to come out as an atheist I should imagine in the general population.

    Unless you hold my position as conservative church worker, where coming out holds a large penalty, though this goes without mention.

  6. New Zealand, I am happy to say, has always been a secular country in its short history since 1840. Religious freedom of the individual is taken for granted. Even though Queen Elizabeth II is head of state here, the Church of England is not the state religion of New Zealand. The only trouble someone wanting to come out as an atheist might encounter in this country would come from his or her own family and friends if these were serious about the religion in question. That might cause some heartache, but in most cases I have known of family relationships survived the coming-out of the atheist family member. Although we have some very religious people and some very exclusive religious groups in New Zealand that are found throughout the Western world, most New Zealanders see religion as a private matter that should be kept private. It is in fact considered bad manners to talk religion in ordinary society here, and most people would avoid you if you kept bringing that subject up. This is a young country that has never had a period in its history that was dominated by religion, as Europe had during the Middle Ages, so there is simply no tradition of privileging any form of religion (apart from tax exemptions, the idea for which was inherited from Britain and seems to be based on churches and the like not being profit-making businesses). Having said as much, I would also say that declaring oneself an atheist, insistently and on more than one occasion, would also be considered bad manners. Atheism is seen as connected with religion and so it is something one does best not to speak about. Because religion lacks the traditional oomph and influence here that it has in older countries, there is in any case not much point in sounding forth about atheism. You’ve become an atheist? Showing off some vocabulary, eh?

  7. In reply to #3 by Ornicar:

    And by the way, I mentioned I’m a teacher. Well, my students, last year, produced this very good but blasphemous short movie, but would not have dared making the same about Muhammad. (English subtitles if you click on the button)

    That was wonderful. I hope everyone on this site watches it; perhaps the mods could give it its own thread. You must be very proud of your students. Excellent post as well. We have a vocal far-right presence in the UK, where I currently spend most of my time. The only thing that ever changes about them is their of choice of scapegoat for all of society’s ills: in the 1930s it was Jews; from the 50s through the 70s, ‘coloured’ immigration from the Commonwealth; then gypsies, gays, feminists, pretty much anyone who wasn’t a white, Christian male. The current enemies are asylum seekers (it used to be bogus asylum seekers but then became anyone seeking refuge from torture, persecution etc) and of course Muslims. They tried to kick up a stink recently over Polish immigration, but since people from Poland tend to be white and only identifiable as different when they speak, it didn’t really take off. It’s always easier for fascists if their victims are color coded. Muslims are a gift from God to them. Sorry, I’ve gone off-topic. Great post, great video. xx

  8. In reply to #3 by Ornicar:
    >

    And by the way, I mentioned I’m a teacher. Well, my students, last year, produced this very good but blasphemous short movie, but would not have dared making the same about Muhammad. (English subtitles if you click on the button)

    Well, Ornicar – excellent work from your students. How old are they?

  9. In reply to #3 by Ornicar:
    Ornicar, I loved the movie. Very funny, witty and well done! I think a lot of Christians, especially the conventional types, would enjoy it too. Compliments to your students and to you, their teacher.

  10. From where I come from, South India, it is not a big deal at all. Turned atheist at 10, a militant atheist at 18. I can’t say the same about Northern India. They tend to take religion pretty seriously, both Hindus & Muslims.

    We, the south Indians, cant seem to relate to any of the major faiths. Christianity & Islam are blatantly foreign to us. And Hinduism is seen more of a religion of Hindi-speaking part of the country. We have resisted both the Hindi & Sanskrit religions for the past 2000 years. And the pagan traditions of the south are too fragmented to be considered a single religion. Most of these traditions are bundled along with Hinduism.

    Anyone with a decent education, living in Southern India would accept rationalism/atheism to be the de-facto & sane position to take. But due to historical reasons, they might still consider themselves to belong to their traditions. It is like, they know what is right, but they still cant give up their traditions. Most of my family falls into this category, either blatantly atheists like me or cultural hindus, by which they mean their local culture. Not the grand Hindu culture of the north such as diwali, raksha bandan, holi, kumb melaetc

    My frustration is not that atheists are marginalized, but the fact that these moderates are unwilling to throw away their traditions. These moderates play right into the number games played by hindu facists like BJP/RSS/VHP. For e.g., my parents have consistently voted for the CPI-M (Communist Party of India – Marxist) but they declare themselves as hindus in the national census. It is hypocritical considering they both took part in anti-hindi agitations when they were at university. And for a major part of their adult life considered themselves to be rationalists with strong anti-hindutva tendencies. But growing old have made them turn soft on this vile & repugnant religion.

  11. In reply to #2 by bdonohue:

    I believe if everyone in the world was an atheist or if everyone was of the same faith, the world would be a much more peaceful and safer place to live.

    I agree that the world would be a much more peaceful and safer place to live if everyone was an atheist. I however profoundly disagree that this could be said if everyone was religious. For example, if everyone was Catholic, what sort of world would that be ? I’m guessing it would be a place where women who were raped would be forced to have the child and raise it. I’m guessing gay people would be persecuted and not afforded equal rights. I’m guessing that millions of people in third world countries would be dying from aids as contraception would be outlawed.

    How about a world where everyone was a Jehovah’s Witness ? Would this not be a world where millions of people died needlessly every year because blood transfusions were illegal ?

    Pick any religion and similar points can be made. I’m afraid only a secular world where peoples thoughts were not clouded by religious dogma and superstition would be a world in which I would want to live.

  12. I’ve lived in the Bible Belt of the US. One is likely to lose their job and friends for being an atheist, and face open hostility and ridicule. People spread lies about what atheism is, and this inspires animosity towards it. As with any differing opinion, one is expected to keep their mouth shut or face a beating. I’ve faced physical threats for being atheist and for professing that I do not hate people.

    In the Midwest atheism is discouraged spoken ill of, but there is not such an unabashed hostility towards it. It can be passive-aggressive, but I haven’t seen families break up over it. I never lost any friends over it.

    I currently live in the SF Bay Area, and know more witches than I do Christians. In fact, being Christian can be a slight social handicap and there is much joyful comradery amongst atheists. When we find this out about each other there’s a nod and possibly a pint to be had over the matter.

  13. I live in the Washington, DC suburbs. It’s a decidedly mixed environment here. on the one hand, there are lots of scientists in the area and around them I can be myself. On the other hand, I fear describing my beliefs at work or to my neighbors, many of who are devout. Yet again, I make a habit of arguing with “missionaries,” a particular public pest in the DC area. As described in other posts, the purpose of arguing with them is to keep them away from real conversion fodder for as long as I can.

    Religiosity strongly varies on economic and ethnic lines; the former determines the amount of religiosity and the latter the type. In general, the poorer people are around here the more likely it is that they are religious. Also, some of the richest people are also religious. I’ve often thought it helps them feel better about being rich.

    My experiences lead me to believe that doing something about the religious monster in the USA means educating people better and fixing extreme economic inequality.

    Thanks for reading.

  14. I live in an Ultra-orthodox Jewish community in New York. I haven’t declared myself an atheist because it would kill my parents and because I would be kicked out of the community. That in itself is not a problem, but I have no where else to go. I’m waiting to get into college (which is something that no one here does) to finally be myself. Unfortunately, my parents realized that, so they’re trying to do their best to prevent me from entering college before I turn eighteen.
    In school, not only am I not allowed to declare my own beliefs, but I’ve been forced to agree with my teachers” beliefs. One teacher actually threatened me with her fist to declare belief in the thirteen principles of Jewish faith.

  15. I live in Washington state, USA. Like some others in the United States who have posted, I find it “easier” to be open and sometimes militant about my atheism online, and keep it private unless in safe company, at work and in the community.

    Seems interesting that folks in other countries appear more open and free in their communities about their atheism than some of the posters in the U.S. on this forum. Maybe I am misinterpreting..

  16. In reply to #16 by astrophysics:

    I live in an Ultra-orthodox Jewish community in New York. I haven’t declared myself an atheist because it would kill my parents and because I would be kicked out of the community. That in itself is not a problem, but I have no where else to go. I’m waiting to get into college (which is something that no one here does) to finally be myself. Unfortunately, my parents realized that, so they’re trying to do their best to prevent me from entering college before I turn eighteen.
    In school, not only am I not allowed to declare my own beliefs, but I’ve been forced to agree with my teachers” beliefs. One teacher actually threatened me with her fist to declare belief in the thirteen principles of Jewish faith.

    Hard not to be moved by your post. So, all I can do is wish you all the best and say hang in there, mate! When you escape to university, you will have such a great time – possibly the best time of your life. Study hard. It’s not long now. All the best.

    Oh, and when you start travelling abroad, come to the UK and meet my atheist “Jewish” friend. He’ll set you right!

  17. Here in the Philippines, people won’t confront you if you say you’re an atheist or whatever your stance is on any issue, unless they have a gun on them or something. Most of the fighting happens when the other guy’s back is turned. Cowardice is just the norm around here.

  18. In South Africa, due to the very secular nature of our country with so many different backgrounds, being atheist is no different in terms of society acceptance etc.

    Certain communities, like the local Muslim community or ultra religious right, do infringe on human rights though WITHIN THEIR OWN COMMUNITIES only. This is something our constitution may address in the future.

    Hope this is the info you were looking for?

  19. So odd to learn this type of thing goes on, even in the so called “land of the free”. I thought the Jewish community was among the most progressive in the US? I’m constantly amazed by all of this religious and cultural divisive and suffocating nonsense holding us back as new global civilized society, with one culture someday with an emergent mindset?

    Good luck mate…

    In reply to #16 by astrophysics:

    I live in an Ultra-orthodox Jewish community in New York. I haven’t declared myself an atheist because it would kill my parents and because I would be kicked out of the community. That in itself is not a problem, but I have no where else to go. I’m waiting to get into college (which is something that no one here does) to finally be myself. Unfortunately, my parents realized that, so they’re trying to do their best to prevent me from entering college before I turn eighteen.
    In school, not only am I not allowed to declare my own beliefs, but I’ve been forced to agree with my teachers” beliefs. One teacher actually threatened me with her fist to declare belief in the thirteen principles of Jewish faith.

  20. I’m a British expat who has spent the last 16 years living in the middle east, and have on many occasions made it known I’m an atheist. Its beyond comprehension to many arab muslims that its actually possible to not have a god… most tend to force the point that i must be christian then upon me to ease their lack of acceptance that someone can be free from theism..

    It does however anger some people, but on the whole baffles most…

    As I speak some arabic I often have people think that its acceptable to try to convert me to Islam, often using the ploy of “we also believe in Jesus”, as if to soften the impact of their sales tactic… I generally happily respond.. ” well unfortunately I don’t” , this tactic seems to put people off their stride.

    Another response is to make a point to say how offended you are that they wish to discuss their personal beliefs with a stranger, and that religion is not something you discuss, as its purely personal and in invasion of ones privacy” … sometimes good to twist the offended tactic the other way around..

    so in conclusion, its not that hard to admit in the country I currently live, but in some of the surrounding countries it certainally would be wise to avoid the conversation altogether (and use the personal offence tactic)

  21. *In reply to #18 by GPWC:

    First of all, I truly appreciate your support- in four years of fighting for the right to education, I never received any. Thanks.

    I find the quotes over ‘Jewish’ interesting- because, after all, is a ‘Jewish atheist’ Jewish? . I’ve never so far had the opportunity to ask people who are not Jewish the following question: Is the title ‘Jew’ a ethnic, religious, or racial title?

  22. In reply to #21 by Glenn_Swart:

    So odd to learn this type of thing goes on, even in the so called “land of the free”. I thought the Jewish community was among the most progressive in the US? I’m constantly amazed by all of this religious and cultural divisive and suffocating nonsense holding us back as new global civilized society, with one culture someday with an emergent mindset?

    Good luck mate…

    You are right about the Jewish community being among the most progressive in the US- but that’s strictly referring to reform and conservative Jews (and perhaps the modern orthodox.). All other groups are actually becoming more sectarian and cult-like.
    You won’t find much truly inside material on such groups online simply because the internet was banned last year by the leaders of those groups, in a convention that was attended by more than forty thousand people. I only got internet access four months ago, when my parents consulted with a rabbi who gave them permission to let me use the internet in an effort to perhaps bring me closer to Judaism. (they don’t realize I’m an atheist, but they do know I don’t believe much of their nonsense.)

  23. In reply to #23 by astrophysics:

    *In reply to #18 by GPWC:

    First of all, I truly appreciate your support- in four years of fighting for the right to education, I never received any. Thanks.

    I find the quotes over ‘Jewish’ interesting- because, after all, is a ‘Jewish atheist’ Jewish? . I’ve never so far had the opportunity to ask people who are not Jewish the following question: Is the title ‘Jew’ a ethnic, religious, or racial title?

    You’re welcome.

    I know a few Jewish atheists – one, who sadly died recently, was very high up in his synagogue. The thing is that in the Old Testament, there’s not much talk of an afterlife, so I think it is a shorter step for Jewish people to atheism than for Christians. I’m very fond of Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest”.

    The title Jew is not racial in a strict sense. as the racial term semitic covers just about everyone in the Middle East. But culturally, Judaism really has something going for it. I don’t know what it is or why it happens, but it does. Even my atheist Jewish friends follow most of the rules and various chuch events out of respect for the culture. Of course, in many ways this has not worked out too well for Judaism. Forming a very strong in-group makes enemies outside … and you know the rest.

    But next time you are in the synagogue, look around you and see if you can spot the atheists – my guess is that there will be plenty. But don’t open your mouth yet – keep cool!

  24. In reply to #25 by GPWC:

    I know a few Jewish atheists – one, who sadly died recently, was very high up in his synagogue. The thing is that in the Old Testament, there’s not much talk of an afterlife, so I think it is a shorter step for Jewish people to atheism than for Christians. I’m very fond of Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest”.

    The title Jew is not racial in a strict sense. as the racial term semitic covers just about everyone in the Middle East. But culturally, Judaism really has something going for it. I don’t know what it is or why it happens, but it does. Even my atheist Jewish friends follow most of the rules and various chuch events out of respect for the culture. Of course, in many ways this has not worked out too well for Judaism. Forming a very strong in-group makes enemies outside … and you know the rest.

    But next time you are in the synagogue, look around you and see if you can spot the atheists – my guess is that there will be plenty. But don’t open your mouth yet – keep cool!

    You’re quite right about the old testament, but the problem is that ultra-orthodox Jews — and by that I don’t mean normal people who wear a yarmulke… I mean some more exotic people– believe the Talmud is just as divinely inspired as the old testament. That’s what creates most problems.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think I’d find any atheists in synagogue. I used to think that since there are some intelligent people there, I should be able to find one. After some very gentle probing (such as mentioning the possibility of life on other planets and watching expressions that varied from shock to disgust to anger to hatred) I came to the sad conclusion that I am the only atheist I’ve spoken to in real life. I haven’t even spoken to that atheist very often, since I only talk to myself when I’m solving truly difficult equations…

  25. In reply to #23 by astrophysics:

    I find the quotes over ‘Jewish’ interesting- because, after all, is a ‘Jewish atheist’ Jewish? . I’ve never so far had the opportunity to ask people who are not Jewish the following question: Is the title ‘Jew’ a ethnic, religious, or racial title?

    That’s a tough one. It’s obviously poly-semantic.

    If a Jew, in Germany in the 30s, said to a Nazi soldier “Don’t kill me, I’m a German atheist”, it would probably not have worked.

    On the other hand, if you’re ever threatened by a Palestinian mob, converting to Islam (maybe adding that you don’t support Israel’s colonial politics) could be enough to save your life.

    Same targets, different hatreds. That’s something newspapers (and too often, Zionists spokespersons) tend to forget.

  26. In reply to #26 by astrophysics:

    Unfortunately, I don’t think I’d find any atheists in synagogue. I used to think that since there are some intelligent people there, I should be able to find one. After some very gentle probing (such as mentioning the possibility of life on other planets and watching expressions that varied from shock to disgust to anger to hatred) I came to the sad conclusion that I am the only atheist I’ve spoken to in real life. I haven’t even spoken to that atheist very often, since I only talk to myself when I’m solving truly difficult equations…

    I don’t know much about ultra orthodox Jews – except that like all extremists, they use well established techniques to surpress internal disagreements and doubts. And they work. But maybe you know a few past black sheep who used to be around and aren’t anymore? Probably, those few, like you, saw through the religious nonsense and left when they could. One thing on this site we are pretty sure of – people who are religious have doubts.

    Being part of a group is a lot of what the human experience is all about. But being in a group you don’t agree with is a terrible fate. So better to look around for other groups – not religious, obviously, and join a local film club or vegetarian society or start your own ex-orthodox Jews group. In fact, hey pretso, the magic of the internet http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2010/09/12/leaving-ultra-orthodox-judaism/.

    You are no longer alone – maybe in body for a short while yet, but not in thought any more.

    All the best, Geoff

  27. In reply to #28 by GPWC:

    Thanks a lot. I’ve just got two minor problems with following your advice:

    One, this community is verrrry insular- the only group I could possibly join would be an art or dance club. I mean, my parents don’t even let me go to the library. I tried to convince them to let me go to public school, which would have solved this problem, but obviously they said no.

    Two, there’s a filter on the computer I’m using that reports ‘suspicious websites’ to my parents. This category includes any website that has ‘atheist’ in its title. Good thing this is a foundation for reason and science, not atheism and science- otherwise I wouldn’t be able to visit here either.

  28. Where im from theres no need to tell anybody.. they just say would you like to go church I say no they ask would you like a pamphlet I say no instead of no thanks. here’s a fire starter there is no such thing as atheist or atheism in reality because the people who rejected god did not originate this term its the people who accepted god or gods that originated this term and started saying that the people who dont accept god shall be called this.. And that were the problem lies coming out to tell people you dont accept something that you dont believe exist.. If i dont believe something is real or exist how can i become something based on that. A christian is a believer in god at the base an atheist is a non believer in god at the base.. But the idea of god at the base or foundation of ones life is a fictional tale not real. Basically in order no to believe in god a person has to believe in a real god or a real christian but they simply don’t exist

  29. In reply to #29 by astrophysics:

    In reply to #28 by GPWC:

    Thanks a lot. I’ve just got two minor problems with following your advice:

    One, this community is verrrry insular- the only group I could possibly join would be an art or dance club. I mean, my parents don’t even let me go to the library. I tried to convince them to let me go to public school, which would have solved this problem, but obviously they said no.

    Two, there’s a filter on the computer I’m using that reports ‘suspicious websites’ to my parents. This category includes any website that has ‘atheist’ in its title. Good thing this is a foundation for reason and science, not atheism and science- otherwise I wouldn’t be able to visit here either.

    Hello again.

    Your situation is not normal and to be honest, I’m out of my depth trying to make suggestions. The big problem is that your group is really a cult – let’s call it what it is – or what it seems to be from where I’m sitting. To get free of cults takes a deal of effort and often some expert help. Most of the time there is a family on the outside trying to get their son/daughter out which is a huge strength. But in your case, your family is on the inside and have been indocrinated themselves, so it is not going to be easy.

    Have you been reading the thread a couple before this one? Here is a link http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/2012/11/27/conservative-laestadianism

    There’s a lot of good advice on there which I’m sure will be useful, even though it seems you are in a worse position than Halla.

    I haven’t asked you your age, but I’m guessing around 15? This means you’ve got to see the next few years through and then you will be free (though, I fear ill-equipped) to choose your own path in the big wide world.

    The other thing that worries me is that your computer is monitored. But as long as you don’t lose access altogether, even if RD.net gets rumbled, there are loads of other sites and you should be able to duck and dive whilst your parents play catch up. And what about email? Here’s mine to put away in case you ever need it gcox@tinyonline.co.uk

    That might read like a sign off from me, but it isn’t. I’m happy to keep corressponding if you want.

    Geoff

  30. In reply to #31 by GPWC:

    Hello again.

    Your situation is not normal and to be honest, I’m out of my depth trying to make suggestions. The big problem is that your group is really a cult – let’s call it what it is – or what it seems to be from where I’m sitting. To get free of cults takes a deal of effort and often some expert help. Most of the time there is a family on the outside trying to get their son/daughter out which is a huge strength. But in your case, your family is on the inside and have been indocrinated themselves, so it is not going to be easy.

    Have you been reading the thread a couple before this one? Here is a link http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/2012/11/27/conservative-laestadianism

    There’s a lot of good advice on there which I’m sure will be useful, even though it seems you are in a worse position than Halla.

    I haven’t asked you your age, but I’m guessing around 15? This means you’ve got to see the next few years through and then you will be free (though, I fear ill-equipped) to choose your own path in the big wide world.

    The other thing that worries me is that your computer is monitored. But as long as you don’t lose access altogether, even if RD.net gets rumbled, there are loads of other sites and you should be able to duck and dive whilst your parents play catch up. And what about email? Here’s mine to put away in case you ever need it gcox@tinyonline.co.uk

    That might read like a sign off from me, but it isn’t. I’m happy to keep corressponding if you want.

    Geoff

    Thanks for your advice till now. Interestingly, I never thought of this community as a cult, but I think you’re right- it is.

    I read the discussion you recommended- good to know there are other people in a similar situation. I actually think that there are many people like Halla in this community. I think, however, that people who are atheists because of a material rather than intellectual dissatisfaction with their religion are more likely to stay stuck where they are. That’s what it’s like here.

    Anyway, I might be silent for the next while because my mother just started hanging over my neck when I’m online- though I don’t think she’s planning anything drastic yet.

  31. In reply to #32 by astrophysics:

    I think, however, that people who are atheists because of a material rather than intellectual dissatisfaction with their religion are more likely to stay stuck where they are. That’s what it’s like here.

    Anyway, I might be silent for the next while because my mother just started hanging over my neck when I’m online- though I don’t think she’s planning anything drastic yet.

    If you need to stay silent for a while, do so. Play the long game and wait til you are a bit older. You have certain legal rights of your own already, but more will kick in when you are 18. You could even run away and join the navy!

    When you come back to the site, you will have to explain what you mean by a “material atheist”.

  32. I live in Alabama, the buckle of the Bible belt. There’s practically a church on every corner; in the two miles from my house to the nearest major intersection, I pass by five. There’s an incredible amount of peer pressure to belong to a church. I imagine that it would be easier to come out as an atheist in the Huntsville area. But here in Mobile, saying you’re an atheist is almost as bad as saying you’re not a University of Alabama football fan.

  33. In reply to #33 by GPWC:

    If you need to stay silent for a while, do so. Play the long game and wait til you are a bit older. You have certain legal rights of your own already, but more will kick in when you are 18. You could even run away and join the navy!

    When you come back to the site, you will have to explain what you mean by a “material atheist”.

    My mother’s out for the next few minutes. First of all, I didn’t know I had any rights- according to U.S. law, my parents are allowed to use corporal punishment if they feel like it.

    Anyway, the term ‘material atheist’ would be sort of redundant. I was referring to atheists who are atheists because of material reasons- e.g., they want to have physical/emotional/sexual comforts their religion denies them- as opposed to atheists who are so because they realize that religion is hogwash through application of the wonderful human faculty called ‘reason.’

  34. In reply to #35 by astrophysics:

    In reply to #33 by GPWC:

    If you need to stay silent for a while, do so. Play the long game and wait til you are a bit older. You have certain legal rights of your own already, but more will kick in when you are 18. You could even run away and join the navy!

    When you come back to the site, you will have to explain what you mean by a “material atheist”.

    My mother’s out for the next few minutes. First of all, I didn’t know I had any rights- according to U.S. law, my parents are allowed to use corporal punishment if they feel like it.

    Anyway, the term ‘material atheist’ would be sort of redundant. I was referring to atheists who are atheists because of material reasons- e.g., they want to have physical/emotional/sexual comforts their religion denies them- as opposed to atheists who are so because they realize that religion is hogwash through application of the wonderful human faculty called ‘reason.’

    Of course you have rights. Your parents wouldn’t be allowed to starve you or lock you in your room for a week without you having a case against them. You would have to go to the police or social services or a teacher and explain what was happening and I’m sure it would be taken very seriously. I realise you would be stirring up a hornets’ nest plus there’s a lot more leeway given to religions esp in the US, but even so, if things got really bad you have rights.

    It’s an interesting concept “material atheist” and I think I see where you are coming from. Suffering in the name of your faith is very important in binding religious sects together – and often the wackier the better. Also, the more costly it is the better. I don’t mean cost only in terms of money, but think about all those idiots who whip themselves, or wear crowns of thorns or even crucify themselves to serve their lord! It’s all about an outward display of denial of good things or acceptance of bad things as a sign of your devotion. In those terms, and where religious groups put extreme conditions on membership, I can see some people breaking loose, because it all gets too much. But in mainstream religions, people already do all the things they are not supposed to (swearing, drinking, casual sex and horor of horrors, contraception). Nevertheless, some contributors to this site have had a a sort of trajectory where they jumped ship from an extreme religion into something softer and only then began to consider the intellectual side of things. So you may have a working hypothesis – write it up – 10,000 words should do to start!

  35. Hi Eddie brazil, here in Dublin its easy to become an atheist, what with all the child abuse that when on here for years, the catholic church caused more oppression in Ireland than the British ever did so ppl don’t bat an eyelid when you tell them your an atheist Why we threw away our own language (gailge) but kept our religion il never know. That’s not the reason I became an atheist, when I was 13, I was thrown out of religion class for asking the teacher why his views contradicted everything I had heard in the science class and the rest is history.

  36. i had a somewhat hard time with it. i didn’t pretend to be religious, but i wasn’t outwardly atheist. then it dawned on me that im respectful to everyone in my life who is religious and i allow them to be a part of my life. if they can’t do the same for me ive got no use for them. i live in the south, ive gotten some shit. but i give it right back. ive got some great friends and family, and i just let everyone else who couldnt deal go.

  37. I live in Alberta, Canada. I can be as open as I want about my lack of belief, and I am very outspoken about why I think that organized religions are not a positive thing. That being said I know for a fact I was only hired for my job because my boss could not find anyone suitable in his church. I’m not sure I would have gotten the job at all ( I imagine not) if I would have admitted to having the opinion of the church that I do. Even my mother has lamented that she doesn’t know where she went wrong raising two non-believers. The irrational mindset is still prevalent here but we are making leaps and bounds and in the next few decades a multitude of outdated mindsets will flutter off into retirement and non-relevance and we can get on with making the world a better place for EVERYONE.

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