Atheism is growing in this country, but the growth is mostly among younger people. Surveys show that older people are far more likely to believe in God than younger people, which, I’m sorry to say had never occurred to me, almost certainly means that older atheists are more likely to face hostility among their social group than younger people are. A PBS station in California has a report on the matter.
[Brigit] Clarke-Smith started Atheists Anonymous after a fellow La Costa resident asked if she was a Christian.
“I thought, that’s a strange thing to say, and I said, ‘no,’ just like that,” Clarke-Smith said. “And she said, ‘well, what are you?’ And I said, ‘I’m an atheist!’ And she was angry, and she walked right out.”
A woman overheard Clarke-Smith and shared some advice.“She said, ‘oh, we’re atheists, but we want to remain anonymous,’“ she said.
Clarke-Smith decided to start a group for atheists like that woman. She named it Atheists Anonymous in her honor…
But despite the increase in popularity, Clarke-Smith said some residents of La Costa Glen don’t appreciate her efforts.
“I’ve been called anti-Christ, I have been called a Jew lover, and one day I was standing in our mail room, and two ladies were looking at a poster that said ‘Brigit Clarke-Smith, Questions? Call Me,’” Clarke-Smith said. “And one of them said, ‘you see this woman’s name? She’s a sinner, she’s going to Hell, and she’s going to burn forever.’ ”
We put a lot of focus on helping younger people organize secular student groups and the like. I think we should put some focus on helping older atheists do the same thing as well.