Is It Harder to be Gay or Atheist?

Seen at PostSecret:

It’s hard to comment since I don’t know the whole story, but at least anecdotally, I’ve found that people who do come out (as gay or atheist) tend to be much happier afterwards than those who keep it to themselves.

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What Have We Learned from Pastors Who Secretly Don’t Believe in God?

Four years ago, philosopher Daniel Dennett and researcher Linda LaScola released a groundbreaking study of pastors who no longer believed in God yet were still in the pulpit. It was a project that led to the formation of The Clergy Project, a private discussion forum for closeted atheist pastors.

Dennett and LaScola released a book last November explaining what they discovered and learned from their study called Caught in The Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind:

Now, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science has uploaded a video interview (in two parts) with LaScola in which she goes more in depth about her research:

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Lighting the Fuse: What Caused Your (De)Conversion? And What, If Anything, Do You Do To Spread Skepticism?

Conversion is a dirty word in atheist circles. We don’t attempt to convert, we tell ourselves and each other. We merely aim to — well, something else.

Plant a seed of reason. Promote logic. Support science.

Anti-theists may go a step further: Call out religious hypocrisy. Tear down clergy who steal and rape. Make mincemeat of superstitions.

All those things are worthwhile to do for their own sake, or I suppose we wouldn’t do them. But I suspect that few of us could honestly argue that we didn’t want to change minds — away from theism. Which we would legitimately and correctly call conversion if the word wasn’t weighed down with a ton of religious baggage.

I have a fairly close relative, on my wife’s side of the family, who, over the past few years, has abandoned his Christian faith. He came out to me as an atheist six months ago. I don’t know for sure if something I said or wrote might have set off or accelerated his drift, but if so, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pleased. I’d be even happier if it was something I did or didn’t do — in other words, if his change of heart was precipitated by how I live… which I hope, despite the bite in my writing, is with love and without malice.

This hopeful blog post by J.M. Green over at Debunking Christianity, titled “Lighting the Fuse,” made me think about (de)conversion. (Funny thing, metaphors: Green talks about lighting a fuse, while the cover of ex-Christian William Lobdell‘s book shows almost the opposite image — a just-extinguished candle – to express the same idea.)

Green writes:

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This Would Have Been a Great Article About Coming Out as an Atheist… a Couple of Decades Ago

Kansas City Star columnist Cindy Hoedel believes 2014 is the year society should start accepting atheists and that begins by giving society someone to accept:

I suspect a large number of the 33 million are in-the-closet atheists who don’t want to be the only person in their family, workplace or book club to use the “A”-word.

Let me go first: My name is Cindy, and I am an atheist.

I really want to like this article. I mean, she’s advocating for something I obviously support.

But I’m having a hard time. It starts with the line “Let me go first.” The admission is welcome, but Hoedel isn’t even close to being first. (Hell, she’s not even the first newspaper columnist to use her platform to come out. That link’s from a decade ago, but I’m sure it happened before then, too.)

Then there’s this line:

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Overcoming the Fear of Coming Out

Seen at PostSecret:

A lot of us have been there. I promise it’s better on the other side.

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