coming out, part 2 (the atheist strikes back!)

So apparently my point about “coming out as an atheist” was not communicated properly so let’s try this again…

Right off the bat I want to say that the sole purpose is to identify that in my opinion “coming out” is not a necessary part of the atheist journey… and now I will tell you why.

I understand that to some people stepping forward and saying “I am an Atheist” is a huge deal, but for those who don’t want to flaunt it, they shouldn’t be shamed. You aren’t a better Atheist simply because you carry the sign. You aren’t a better Atheist simply because you write a letter. Some of the loudest, most militant “Atheists” I know have the least meaning behind their words…and the only impact they ever make is a laugh.  If you don’t want to wear the shirt and you just want to gain knowledge and enjoy the community- I see nothing wrong with it.

Another reason our fellow Atheists shouldn’t be pressured into “coming out” is that it can cause a lot of unnecessary stress. Last time I wrote of this, I put two scenarios- one person called these “instructions”, which they weren’t- but so that there is no confusion we will just disregard that part. The stress I speak of comes more from the anticipation of it than anything else. Apparently I am one of the few people who actually takes time to learn the back stories of our local members because I have heard some tough descriptions whereas the very leader of one group says he’s never heard anything dramatic. One that sticks out for me took place at an event in July of 2012, I met a couple who had moved to Pittsburgh after being disowned. Funny enough, they “came out” as agnostic because they felt they had to confess their doubts of God, to God, after a trip to the museum blew their minds. A young man sitting at the bar with us said “this is why I don’t tell anyone”. He then asked me how people reacted when I came out and I explained (as I did in the previous blog) that I never came out, I am an atheist, I am open about it and I don’t see it as a big deal. These polar opposites seemed to puzzle him, he asked a few more people about it… he never came back.  I can’t say if this is true for him, but for some “Skeptics” who I have kept in touch with outside of local meetings that haven’t returned to the group, they’ve said that it is too harsh and that, despite their lack of faith they were happier where they were. Sad to think that finally finding the community, which should bring comfort, can show a dogmatic nature like that of religion… making the transition barely worth it.

I took a lot of heat from the statement in the previous blog: “I am Allison Reed, I am bi-sexual, I am an atheist and I am a whole lot of other things that just came naturally and I’ll be damned if I need to “come out” and get acceptance from anyone.” . A few of my fellow Pittsburgh Atheists said it was contradictory to say that Atheists shouldn’t be required to label themselves, and then to label myself. Well maybe it  was a little odd… but my point was this- I am comfortable using these terms to describe myself but if others are not that is ok and it should not be judged. There is a reason that when you fill out your pharmacy survey at riteaid under the gender section you can choose “i prefer not to answer”… it’s because in today’s society we require the bare minimum as far a label’s concerned… so please stop pressuring the people who do support you to do something they aren’t comfortable with.

One of the most important reasons why a lot of people want these coming out parties to occur is a major reason I recommend not pushing it onto everyone. That is simply that not all Atheists believe the same things. When discussing my previous blog, one gentleman said “The only way to change the religious special treatment in this country and the religious nonsense in our laws, on our money and in our pledge is to become empowered politically. That requires people to be publicly non-religious.”. At face value this sounds fair, except that not all Atheists are Anti-theists. Some Atheists do not view religion as dangerous, some just support science, some just straightforward don’t believe in God with no underlying agenda. So in that case, their coming out would not help your cause and could possibly confuse things for them.

So this is just some food for thought, I am out and proud, but if you aren’t you are still my Atheist ally and I am proud to share the community with you.

2 thoughts on “coming out, part 2 (the atheist strikes back!)

  1. I have to say, after reading your two-part, although I do not completely agree with you, will willingly concede you do have a point there. I have spent some time in the liberal West, Australia to be exact, and can understand where you’re coming from; although Australia is very secular, nothing like the US. There are people out there who flash their atheism around, just to be self-important (yes, I’m being a bit judgemental). But there are others who live in countries like Pakistan, are persecuted, and staunchly believe that societies need to do away with it since it is highly detrimental. You on the other hand, live in a place where you won’t be shot at, for being an atheist. I’d highly recommend one of my posts on the subject; people in the West NEED to know how it feels like, here, in this part of the world.

  2. I am divided on this. I see why atheists would want to stay quiet and non confrontational, especially if you have friends that are good people and just happen to be theists. And it takes a lot of energy to be openly atheist, arguing constantly with others, taking responsibility for things. But I also remember the days feeling horrible and unnatural, thinking that I was alone, that there are no other atheists in this whole state. Feeling like being a freethinker was part of my mental illness, even being accused of that, by my family. I know that some days I would see an openly gay, or atheist, or democrat, only identifiable by reading the bumper stickers on their car. So I think that having those who have “come out” is very important also. I think that the Christians have a point. To testify their belief to others is to strengthen them. We may need to take a page from them.

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