What Obstacles Do Young Atheists Face?

I’m working on a project with a local professor called The Atheist Voice in which I tackle some burning question people often ask atheists.

The video below answers the question: What Obstacles Do Young Atheists Face?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Robert

    Honestly I can’t say that I had a truly difficult time (in most parts.) I was out to my friends by High School. In fact, I found the core group I had already acclimated to was very good at debate, and most were even religious, so I could have enjoyable conversations with them about religion and not be worried about hurting their feelings. Hell, they were good, honest, intelligent people so we could talk about anything, really. Considering I was also a liberal democrat-leaner with long hair, it was clear in the majority conservative Protestant culture who and who wasn’t going to talk to me. I could easily avoid the few, ignore the ones who I debated and ended up hating me (as well as the inherently religious choir music in our secular school,) and did not have to feel alone in any way. Hell I credit that to keeping that love of Religion historically and academically alive in me, and instead of being aggressive against the casual believer I blame only the men who abuse religion, not the system itself; after all, I knew good believers and found that the bad ones were responsible for their own actions.

    College there isn’t much to say. I’m part of a SSA affiliation, which does little, and for the first time most of my friends are atheist so it is much more easy going and less challenging. I strike up with the evangelists every time I get, though, just for fun. It isn’t bad necessarily, but I’m glad to have FB so I can always strike up conversation with my old crowd once again.

    Family, though, was a different matter, and really Church was my biggest obstacle. They were (and for half of my immediate and most of my extended) Catholic or Protestant, meaning that Sunday, even on holiday at relative’s houses, meant Church of one form or another. Now, normally they aren’t bad people, but I was apprehensive about their response. Yet I couldn’t go on much longer living a lie; after all, the people at my Church were good folks I cared for; while I boast about learning to BS at Religious Education now, it never felt right to be so deceitful to people who were honest to me. I had even gone through Boy scouts with my parish. Hell when I finally got the nerve to tell my Youth Pastor, it was an amazing experience, not from his otherwise respectful questions, but from just coming clean to someone that high up. That was only a later step in the process of ebbing away from the Church, though; first came the extended bathroom breaks, then the sitting in the back, then volunteering to be able to sit in the lobby during off times. Looking back it must have been obvious to anyone with basic observing skills, but I still felt I had that moral requirement to do so.

    My Mother found out, however, and that is when the trouble started. I confessed on unequal terms I was an atheist to both my Mom and Dad, and my Mother understandably broke down in tears. I had previously gotten out of RE, but I still reluctantly agreed to go to Church and sit in the building itself, which was plenty awkward. My older Brother and Sister, both non-religious in different terms, wavered between supporting and non supporting, and my little sister rarely talked about it only to say how horrible I was when I finally got off of going to Church permanently on a homework technicality. I got stinted reactions from my relatives and grandparents, too, when I told them I was an atheist and refused to go to their church too. While my family has fortunately gotten over it and actually accepted it, I still can’t step into a Church. Too many bad memories to counter the good ones, too many key words for my brain to point out. It shouldn’t matter, but it actually sort of does for a strange sentimental reason and it along with worship music are both things I forcibly live without.

    That being said, I am one of the lucky ones. Not much drama, no major issues besides the eventually going to crack egg shells of Church, and not many lost connections (or at least not many breaking on a bad note.) Hell, I am closer to my family and friends now as I was then, deeper interested in religion than I was when I was a part of it, and have more formed opinions than many I meet online when it comes to religion. I can solidly say that overall I had a clean split on amiable terms with religion.