In the past few years, even though surveys have shown that more young people are losing their religion, there are still many young atheists who choose to remain in the closet. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to lose their friends, or they want to hide the secret from their parents, or they’re worried about getting bullied and harassed by other students (it’s happened before).
In any case, it has a chilling effect.
Students are afraid to start secular groups where they can meet other atheists and explore their own (non-)religious identities.
Students stay silent even as they see illegal promotion of Christianity around them because they don’t want to rock the boat and draw any negative attention.
Students stop themselves from thinking too critically about religion out of fear that they may not like where the answers lead them.
Students are unable to help fix the untrue and unfair stereotypes about atheists — that we’re not trustworthy or electable. While things are getting better overall, there are still many pockets of America where it’s neither easy nor safe to publicly proclaim your atheism.
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