Sunday Morning Survey – ‘When’s The Right Time To Announce You’re A Young Atheist?’

Sunday Morning Survey – Because On A Morning This Nice It’s More Fun To Stretch Your Brain Than Stretch The Spine Of A Hymn Book.

Firstly – hat-tip to the very kind Digital Cuttlefish who has blogged about the Phiten necklaces in Prime Time Superstition and gave a hat-tip to my blog-post on NRG TitaniumION Bands.

More importantly, as mentioned by WWJT in his recent blog-post, Digital Cuttlefish once wrote about Jessica Ahlquist, in a blog-post called Fox News Commenters Hate America. Young people facing prejudice for coming out as an atheist is not unheard of. So, when a young Australian writes about prejudice that they’ve faced in the classroom… of course they’re going to wonder about the wisdom of defending themselves. Especially if they’re in a faith-school.

A young commentator on a forum board was concerned about how some comments were made about atheists (which they consider themselves to be) weren’t very positive and they were worried as to whether even speaking out in a ‘devil’s-advocate’ fashion was somehow the wrong thing to do. Not that they were completely negative comments – but when do you choose your battles?

It’s not just faith-schools where one can face this – it can also mean entire communities. Alom Shaha has a book coming out, with a foreword by the great A.C Grayling. Yet it’s going to be published OUTSIDE the UK due to concerns about the content. What’s the title? The Young Atheist’s Handbook:

I grew up in a strict Bangladeshi Muslim community in South-East London in the 1970s and 80s. I was expected to go to mosque regularly and recite passages in Arabic from the Quran, without being told what they meant. I spent my teenage years juggling two utterly different worlds: my chaotic, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic family life on a council estate, and that of a student at a privileged private school set amongst the idyllic green playing fields of Dulwich. 

In the years since I realized I neither had nor wanted faith in the religious sense, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand the world and how to develop my own moral and ethical compass. The Young Atheist’s Handbook is the result of that thinking.

Do you wait until there’s some big issue that you can make a legal stand about? Do you just learn as much as you can during your schooling and early life and use it to better inform your later outed-atheist self? And where do you seek support and guidance if you do find yourself challenged – on a forum board, like the young Australian atheist? By seeking out support groups like Jessica Ahlquist? What if you’re growing up in a strict community where you don’t feel as if you have access to such resources?

Is there ever a right time for all?

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.


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