The Exterminator at No More Hornets created a list of confessions.

I sadly admit some of the following have crossed my mind at one time or another…

  • Even though I’m an atheist, I sometimes automatically say “god bless you” when a person sneezes. Then I kick myself for the rest of the day.
  • I say “oh, Christ!” and “oh, shit!” about an equal number of times each day, even though I believe in only one of them.
  • When I tell a stranger that I don’t believe in god, I’m a little disappointed if I don’t get a huge, shocked reaction.

What atheistical confessions do you have?

[tags]atheist, atheism, The Exterminator, No More Hornets, Christ, God[/tags]

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  • David W.

    I just say “bless you” when people sneeze, but I still have had people ask me why I say that if I’m an atheist. I will upgrade a “damn it” to a “god damn it” when I’m feeling particularly aggravated. I will also say “For the love of….” without continuing when I’m frustrated, although sometimes I will alter it to “For the love of Mike!” And I will sometimes be just about to say “Well thank god!” in relief over something before I catch myself. Lately I’ve been trying to change that to “thank reason!” or “thank science!” I also use ‘holy’ a lot, as in “holy shit” but also in more religious references like “holy god” and “holy mary mother o’ god.”

    What can I say, phrases are easy to pick up and use to repeat a desired inflection or emotion, without even thinking about the meaning.

  • Siamang

    I don’t curse much. When I do, I use shit and fuck.

    Sometimes I say “damn it” without specifying who I want to damn what to where.

    I do bless people or guzundheit them when they sneeze.

  • Siamang

    I don’t curse much. When I do, I use shit and fuck.

    Sometimes I say “damn it” without specifying who I want to damn what to where.

    I do bless people or guzundheit them when they sneeze.

  • Bruce

    I am constantly saying “Jesus Christ” when I’m upset or angry or things just aren’t going my way in general. I don’t really think of it as having any religious connotations though. I just learned it from my dad as he said it all the time when I was younger. It means the same thing to me as saying any of the various curse words, just a way to verbally express myself.

    The only time I’ve ever had it come back at me was when I was at a basketball game once (Oregon vs. Kansas, Ducks won!). Something happened during the game and I let out a “Jesus Christ” and the older woman sitting next to me looked at me and made some comment about how I don’t need to yell for Jesus to hear me. Actually, I was a little embarrassed as I try to keep my cursing down to a minimum in public (I’m old fashioned that way I guess).

  • Jen

    I say “Oh my god” all the time, and I “For god sakes” and occasionally, ‘Jesus Christ on a bicycle”

    As for sneezing, when I sneeze, I sneeze about 8 times in a row, very loudly. I hate the whole “bless you” or anything else, because then I am stuck in an endless loop of (sneeze) “bless you” “thanks” (sneeze) “bless you” “thanks” (sneeze) “bless you” “thanks.” I hate this with a passion felt for few other things. I want to do away with the whole business, before I go off on some random passerby with “I don’t want you to acknowledge my sneeze! Why should I thank you for your meaningless words? I hate this whole stupid acknowledgement system!” My mother says I am rude if I don’t thank people, but it just seems like so much bullshit to say anything about a sneeze.

  • benj

    I say JEEBUS a lot, does that count? :p

  • miller

    I don’t really curse, so more along the lines of the last one…
    I do get kind of annoyed that no one says a thing when I identify as an atheist. It makes me worry that people are just keeping their reactionary thoughts to themselves. But I think this feeling is irrational, since people here in California probably just don’t care. I’m still paranoid about it.

  • olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    The “oh Christ” thing? You do know that this is a vice you share with many Christians and other believers, don’t you? Build on it.

    When I tell a stranger that I don’t believe in god, I’m a little disappointed if I don’t get a huge, shocked reaction.

    Here, in the depths of secular New England, the polite way to answer people telling you more about their personal life than there is any reasonable reason to expect they will enjoy hearing is, “How nice for you,” and to change the subject to politics or sex or some other properly public topic. I did, however, back in the 70s know a woman who invented a sexual identy to make herself more edgy. When people started announcing they were gay or bisexual she would rather cryptically anounce that she was a “monosexual” and leave it at that. Maybe you could get more traction if you said you were a heathern.

  • brian t

    The most insidious of these has to be “goodbye”, which is short for “god be wi’ ye” or something like that. I tend to use “‘bye” these days, or “cheers”, if I remember.

    I’m not bothered by any of this: you’re just using the current vernacular of the day to express an emotion, a connection made years ago. Anyway, don’t “hell” and “damnation” have valid cultural & secular meanings too?

  • HeIsSailing

    My confessions:

    I rarely ever curse. When I do, I usually blurt out something fierce like, ‘Blast it all’.

    My politics, my ethical values, and my sense of environmental awareness have not changed that I have noticed since leaving Christianity.

    As an apostate, I find the Bible more fascinating now then I did as a Christian, only seeing it through non-stainedglass eyes. I am working my way through much of the Apocryphal NT and am stunned at the variety of beliefs that fell under the banner of Christianity.

    I am relieved that I no longer feel obligated to give at least 10 percent of my income to a church, and usually find it drifting into a stupid building fund.

    I miss hearing my wife sing in Chior

    I miss the intimacy I felt with fellow Christian believers – the intimacy and closeness I felt with people who believed what I did. I wish there was such a thing as an athiest church, or at least a secularists club or meeting near where I live.

    I am late for work.

    I abhor, more than ever, the intelligent design and creationism movements.

    There. I confessed. Thankfully, this confession requires no repentance.

  • HappyNat

    I admit, god damnit is my favorite curse phrase. I’ve tried to change but I love the way it rolls off my toungue when I hammer my finger or the dogs have eaten my shoes. At least I don’t specify which god, except on occasion I saw odin damnit. I also on occasion say Jesus Christ, but usually add a Fvcking in the middle or add on a popsicle stick (nod to Tommy Lee Jones in Natural Born Killers).

    Hey Bruce, Go Ducks!

  • writerdd

    I say “oh my god,” and “thank god” a lot. I never would have said these things when I was a Christian, because I considered them to be “taking the name of the Lord in vain.” I also say “Jesus F*cking Christ” more than I’d like to admit, and it feels really good.

    My main confession is that, even though I used to be a fundamentalist Christian and I know I was not stupider during that period than I was before or after–I have the same brain after all–I still think people who believe in the literal truth of the Bible are stupid. I can’t seem to stop myself from thinking this and I feel bad thinking this way because it means I am less effective at communicating with people.

    And although I want to think moderate and progressive religious folks are OK, I don’t really. Every time I read something by Sam Harris, I find myself saying, “OMG, this guy GETS it.”

  • Kelly

    I say “bless you” all the time, and I laugh to myself every time I do it. I don’t say “God bless you”, so I suppose I could be blessing someone in the name of…disease control?
    A lot of damn it, Jesus Christ, etc. It’s a good thing hell doesn’t exist because that whole “do not take God’s name in vain” commandment is one have truly failed at.
    I have to admit, I just can’t respect creationism. I can find out that someone is a Christian(for the most part-see next confession) and still respect them, but if they start talking ID, that intellectual respect goes out the door.
    Lastly, there are certain religions and Christian denominations that I really have a hard time with. How do people believe this stuff? I’m specifically referring to the story of the Mormon Church, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as some Wiccan beliefs. Do grown people really believe in fairies and casting spells?
    So, there are my confessions. Do I get a cookie?

  • valhar2000

    I say “Goddamn” a lot. It just sounds so good. I also say “hot damn” sometimes, because it sounds very good as well.

    Other confessions:

    1) I believe, even though I don’t want to, that the majority of people are idiots, completely useless, and replaceable. Gah! It sounds so bad! But I can’t help it…

    2) I simultaneously beleive that humanity will become like the Federation (only without the silliness) and conquer The Galaxy; I still can’t figure out how to put those two beleifs in the same mental compartment, and it irks me somewhat.

    3) I simply can’t respect people who are into woo, or religion. I automatically classify them as dimwits, which bites me in the ass when they turn out to be smart in other venues.

    4) I drive my car, and like it, far more than my environmentalist leanings allow for comfortably.

    And probably lots more…

  • Loooney

    The one I like the best is when an Atheist tries to Intelligently Design an argument that proves the non-existence of Intelligent Design.

  • Anatoly

    I quit believing in God before I quit believing in the tooth fairy :\

  • Rose

    I’ve started saying gesundheit- after looking it up to make sure it didn’t translate into “god bless you”!

    I wish I could find something for “oh my god” besides “oh my gosh”, which just sound so Mary Jane. Maybe “sweet jebus” will do…

    By the way, thank you for the posts about the Creation Museum. I’ve passed them on to many people.

  • Mark

    fwiw, my family and I, at my urging, have taken to following a sneeze with “may the force be with you.”

  • Lou Doench

    I have a tendency to curse like a sailor at times. I think my lil girls will only associate God and Jesus with times when Dad bangs his knee or the Bengals fumble.

    I must confess that, while I have a pronounced dislike for Catholicism, I still love photographing churches.

    I also must confess that I love a lot of old country and Bluegrass, even when its a Gospel Tune.

    Even though I don’t agree with the sentiment, Amazing Grace is still an incredible song. I’ll usually sing along when I hear it.

    I must confess that, even though I sometimes agree with him (not as often as I used to), I think Christopher Hitchens is a major league asshole.

  • olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    I quit believing in God before I quit believing in the tooth fairy :\

    Stopped paying, did she?

  • Serra

    I definitely do all of the swearing described above, and say “bless you” when somebody sneezes.
    I’m trying to cure myself of it, as cursing someone with a God I don’t believe in doesn’t make much sense, but it’s hard.
    However, my all time favorite phrase is one that I picked up somewhere and can’t seem to let go of- “Jesus Christ on a stick!”. When questioned, you can say that it’s historically accurate.

  • Intergalactic Hussy

    I do also say “bless you” because I work corporate and it is seen as being polite. Do I agree? No! But one step at a time… It’s like saying ” Yea, you didn’t die!”

    I have changed all my other sayings. I “Thank Science”, “Thank Nature” or “Thank the Universe” (what ever’s appropriate). And in other cases, have replaced “god” with “Science”, “Nature”, or “The Universe”…because it makes sense to me!

    I have become very conscious of what I say lately and will not say anything with “god” in it. (And being raised Jewish, the Jesus ones barely exist at all.) But I will poke fun at other atheists who accidentally say “thank god”, etc.

    Benj, I also say Jebus, too… 😛


    “Jesus Christ on a stick!”. When questioned, you can say that it’s historically accurate.


  • Liz Rotatori

    I cry when I go to a church and hear good music. But I’m pretty sure it’s just the mixture of music and nostalgia.

    I miss the community of church. Funny though, because I never felt the community of church when I was Catholic. It always had this “holier than thou”, “you don’t belong here” vibe.

    When someone sneezes, I say, “Salute!” It’s Italian for “Health!” Sometimes I still get funny looks. I’ve never found an adequate replacement for “God Bless You.”

  • Karen

    I seldom curse, but when I do what comes out is, “Jeeezus H. Christ!”

    Man, that is satisfying. :-) Of course, I still sometimes get a twinge of the old Christian guilt: “Woops, I just took the lord’s name in vain!” (Ducking lightning bolts…).


    My main confession is that, even though I used to be a fundamentalist Christian and I know I was not stupider during that period than I was before or after–I have the same brain after all–I still think people who believe in the literal truth of the Bible are stupid.

    Well, I agree with you but I think at the time I was a fundy, I used only about 50% of my brain. The rest of it was closed off and stuffed with Christian cotton candy. So, maybe we can be forgiven a little bit.

    I have compassion for the fundies, but I can’t admire them for their intellect. Just look at the behavior of the drive-by evangelists here and elsewhere online. They are overwhelmingly uninformed, closed-minded and virtually illiterate. They cut and paste creationist dogma that makes no sense, and they’re not interested in the real issues and arguments. They certainly contribute to the suspicion that bible literalists are ignorant – and proud of it!

  • Richard Wade

    My dad swore like a sailor because he was one. I do too but I don’t have the sailor’s excuse. He often bellowed, “Jesus H. Christ!” but I never found out what the “H” stands for.

  • Richard Wade

    I never got into the habit of saying “bless you” when someone sneezes. It’s just weird to me. It would be disingenuous to want to bless them when I’m thinking, “Thanks for all the viruses, you germ-ridden @##*$%&! What the hell’s the matter with you, coming here sick and not covering your mouth when you sneeze? You’re a selfish, inconsiderate #$%*!” But I don’t say any of that, because I’m nice. I either say nothing or something like, “Oh, do you have a cold?”

  • Miko

    He often bellowed, “Jesus H. Christ!” but I never found out what the “H” stands for.


  • Steelman

    Richard Wade said about sneezes: […] “You’re a selfish, inconsiderate #$%*!” But I don’t say any of that, because I’m nice. I either say nothing or something like, “Oh, do you have a cold?”

    I’m trying to get into the habit of saying “salud.” Especially appropriate, I think, since I’m becoming a member of a minority group here in California (i.e., white guys). Back in my high school days, a sneeze would elicit a terse “shut up!” from one of my cohorts. Sophomoric humor from my sophomore days…

  • Siamang

    He often bellowed, “Jesus H. Christ!” but I never found out what the “H” stands for.


  • Tyler

    My favorite curse is the admittedly overlong but visually satisfying “Jumpin’ Jesus on a pogo stick!”

  • Richard Wade

    Miko and Siamang, LOL! Holy and Haploid are both good ones. I think I’ll combine the two for my own expression, “Holy haploid!” There are probably very few people in the world who will really get what I mean.

  • James Koran

    I’m bombarded by the “god bless you” cliche everyday as I work with the older population in long term nursing care. I realize they are basically thanking me for providing care, so in my situation it’s not a big deal. Often, I say thank you to the the god bless you statements and I’ve replaced the god bless you with the more appopriate “gesundheit” It’s a german word that means “good health to you” Oh the nuances of language!

  • Bradley

    I wish atheists took it upon themselves to get together with other atheists. I don’t know. I’m not just an atheist. I’m a lonely science geek.

    My personal confession, I find it hard to have intelectual conversations with religious people without it ending up in a reason not to believe there is an all loving, all powerful, all knowing thing.

    As you may have noticed, I have a hard time using the word god or God. When I use the word I feel like people automatically think up some shape in their mind. Saying “thing” or “personality” instead, I think, helps them realize that there is no reason to even call it God… It’s more than that, but I’m lazy to type.

  • Ash

    thank you for helping me to understand my alternative to ‘thank god’

    i couldn’t use the alternatives of ‘thank science/nature/the universe’…for me it’s too contrived – therefore uncomfortable and unsatisfying to use as an expletive. i previously felt my version was too challenging to use in polite company, but now i can claim that it’s my appreciation of evolutionary factors as opposed to a god-based world view that explains and justifies it.

    thank fuck for that.

  • Greta Christina

    When I engage in one of the most central and profound secular activities of my life — namely, having sex — I can’t seem to shut up about Jesus and God. I say/scream “Oh God,” “Oh Jesus,” “Jesus Fucking Christ,” and so on, probably dozens of times in an evening.

    And I go out of my way to find things about religion in the news to get angry and worked up about, just so I can blog about them.

    Please forgive me.

  • Richard Wade

    Greta, we don’t just forgive you, we love you for it.

    But then we’re not your next door neighbors having to put up with all the screaming. :)

  • Greta Christina

    That’s sweet, Richard. Do you think my neighbors would like me better if I screamed, “Oh, Darwin!” instead? :-)

  • Nurse Ingrid

    1. I am right there with all of you who feel that the convention of saying “bless you” when someone sneezes is just silly and embarrassing, yet I feel like I have to say something or people will think I’m rude! I always hope no one will say it to me though.

    2. HOWEVER, I must confess that I , and several other “nonbelievers” in my family, have appropriated my Southern fundamentalist grandparents’ endearment, “bless your heart,” as an all-purpose expression of affection or sympathy. We just leave open the question of who is doing the “blessing.”

    3.I love colorful swearing, the more long-winded the better. My personal favorite comes from a comic book called “Sam and Max” and it goes “Holy jumpin’ mother o’god in a sidecar with chocolate jimmies and a lobster bib!” I don’t actually use it much, but it never fails to crack me up. I also love Apu’s interjection,”Shiva H. Vishnu!” from the Simpsons, and the Monty Python routine with the Russian communists saying “Oh my lack of god!”

    4. I LOVE old gospel tunes, especially the Carter Family. (Who remembers the Onion piece, “Gospel Choir Makes Area Man Wish He Believed in All That God Bullshit”?) I was the one who insisted that we play “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” at my grandfather’s funeral, much to the amusement of the other fundie relatives who thought it was dorky, quaint and old-fashioned! (Little do they know that traditional music is now cool among urban hipsters, while THEY insist on listening to truly awful, modern gospel dreck. Think Celine Dion doing the soundtrack to a Disney movie, only more treacly…)
    I also love “Anchored in Love,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “Little Log Cabin by the Sea,” and many others. I try to tell myself that religion was somewhat different when those songs were written, that it’s all about context, but the truth is those songs do express something all humans long for: unconditional love and peace. All I can say is, too bad they’re barking up the wrong tree…

    Thank you for the opportunity to get all this off my chest. You all rock.