Saturday, May 22, 2010

Turn Your Faith Dial Down...

I must interact daily with many devoutly religious individuals.

Work conversations are peppered with Biblical references and overtly over-religicized aphorisms. Weekend schedules revolve around liturgical services. I have stopped sharing anything personal with anyone, because everything good that happens must be a “blessing,” or “providence,” or all part of “God’s plan.” [Sometimes they point to the sky at this point, for emphasis.]

I am presented with the biggest moral dilemma for an atheist which pertains solely to the trait of atheism: should one speak out?

From reading my blog, you might assume I’m pretty assertive. The truth is, I have two personalities: I have a personality for public/strangers/co-workers, and a personality for friends/family/anonymity.

Strangely, the face I show my friends and family is pretty horrific and in-your-face, so they deserve a round of applause for putting up with that. My public face is the person you would meet on the street for the first time: patient, soft-spoken, agreeable, smiling… everything I’m usually not.

I’ve worked with this group of people for at least three weeks now, and I can easily gauge at this point who I want be honest with and those for whom I must always don the mask of polity.

I’ve told one person off-handedly who is roughly my age and who volunteered that she was Jewish in a discussion about how I was meeting my wife’s parents for the first time on our one-year anniversary. It was pertinent to the discussion (we are not an inter-faith couple, as we are both atheist), she was the only one around, and we were just making small talk while packing up to leave.

But why hold back at all? So many throw it in my face, so why can’t I at the very least merely inform everyone of my stance? Maybe the religious allusions will stop, though I find most mannerisms are tough habits to break.

I certainly won’t be pointing any of them to my blog, especially the Muslim ones… at least not until after “Draw Mohammad Day” is off the front page.

All of this reminds me of why atheists do need to speak out. I prefer a medium such as blogging, which is not a captive audience. If I offend someone at any point, they can choose to stop reading and never have to be exposed to my ideas again.

The thing about religious people that I hate so much is that they incorporate their faith into every aspect of their lives and personal interactions. I want nothing to do with that. Unlike religion, atheism is not a club; it is neither an exclusive group nor a blunt object for hitting others over the head. I refuse to adopt the tactics of the faithful. I believe fighting fire with fire only ensures we are all burned.

… but that doesn’t mean I can’t bitch about it here.


  1. I really hear you on this one. I have to work with very overtly religious people and it drives me insane..... Which is why I am starting to lean toward publicly pretending to be a satanist. It is really hard, and one that I struggle with myself.

  2. Welcome to Jesusland.

    Now you understand why my blog came into existence.

    It seems easier if you're already a non-believer to just let people know from the begining, or as they ask.

    But when you've been knee deep into religiousness and openly devoted in the stuff for 85% of your life, it's a challenging thought to tell everybody you've had a change of heart.

    Back at my high school I started a bible club. It was never over 15 students. Today, that club still exists at about 100 students strong. People ask me why I don't go back and keep them encouraged.

    I'm ashamed I got something like that going, in retrospect.

    Like I said . . . welcome to Jesusland.

  3. Oh, but I forgot-- telling people can potentially jeopardize your employment. I know, I know . . . It's not supposed to do that. But, the religious culture keeps those "negatives" about in in the back of their minds. As the negatives mount up in their eyes about you, they might be more inclined to let you go.

    Do we stand up against it? Maybe we should. But, maintaining a steady livelihood is quite sobering.

    But I don't worry about strangers knowing about my non-belief so much. I worry more about those closest to me. I'm very, very tempted to come out. Lately, I've been forced to confront people who have tried to take advantage of me and my family. I had to step up in the courage department. That courage is slowly starting to generalize I think. I don't want to be stupid or rash-- but I'm growing tired of hiding my myself.

    After all, it's supposed to be a free country, right?

  4. I'm not even in the south yet. This is a major metropolitan area on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard. They run the gammut from Catholic to Jehovah's Witness to Muslim. I guess the south will be worse... but I can't honestly imagine how.

    Hopefully if you tell those close to you, they won't abandon you. I bet that's the great theistic dilemma: should I disown someone who is a heathen?

  5. ginx you FORFEIT your life...

  6. The problem as I see it arrives as you now begin to tell me about no god.
    I don’t not believe in or trust any of the organized religions as practiced in America or the world, in general.
    But I do believe there is more to this life than meets the eye.
    To have to wade through an atheist’s point of view is as tiring as hearing yet another religious point of view.
    To attempt to see god without the husk shroud given the concept, by years of political influence, is a daunting task.
    Your view of god or religion is your view, please do not try to proselytize.
    Hell that sounds like what I doin’ here.
    I miss your ‘funny bible quotes’

  7. @Punch

    As an atheist, I don't really mind that someone else is theist. There are many theists that I respect very highly. I found myself respecting some non-believers back when I was a strong Christian.

    What I dislike is the air down here where I live (the Bible Belt) is thick with this assumption that you're a Fundamentalist Christian. And if you express a difference with that, you can be made to feel really out of place-- as if something were wrong with you for believing something different.

    You're often times automatically perceived as an evil person who needs God's help.

    And then the proselytizing begins.

    I personally don't try to proselytize as much as I just try to point out that the atheist world view isn't so horribly crazy.

    I'll also dare say that atheists often believe there is more to life that meets the eye, too. It's just not anything "supernatural", so to speak. :-)

  8. @Uruk You made my point better than I did. Thanks. It took me a long time to get over the indoctrination of early childhood.

  9. @Punch: Man, it took me a long time for me to overcome my indoctrination too. Boy, that was a mind job for me. Sort of like taking the "red pill" rather than the "blue pill".

  10. I think one of the more annoying things about religious people is that some tend to think that others want to know or need to know about their religion. Lead by example, don't mention it unless they ask, because otherwise it's kind of making a hypocrite out of yourself.


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