If there is anything in me that can be called bravery, rest assured it probably came from my mother. Dad just sent me this on facebook:
One of Carol’s old–but rarely interacted with— friends posted this on facebook today: “I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY SOME PEOPLE THINK IT’S KOOL TO BASH RELIGION ON FACE BOOK. ARE YOU SO DESPERATE FOR PEOPLE TO LIKE YOUR PAGE? YOU ARE ENTITLED TO YOUR OPINION. IF YOU THINK GOD IS A MYTH, THAT IS YOUR DECISION! JUST DON’T EXPECT ME TO BE YOUR FRIEND. I DON’T NEED FRIENDS THAT BAD. I AM A LIVING MIRACLE OF HIS GRACE! BY ALL RIGHTS, I SHOULDN’T EVEN BE HERE! GOD GAVE ME A SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE! IF YOU DON’T AGREE…WELL..BYE!”
Carol replied to him: “Tim, I am one of “those” that do not believe in a god or gods. If you feel you need to unfriend me, please do. I will always think fondly of you and I will understand.”
He sent this back to her: “I love you carol. I always will you are and will remain a very dear friend. unfriend you…uh..no!”
This illustrates why we need to come out of the closet as atheists. It is easy to hate, to denigrate,and to shun the faceless “other”. It pulls them up short when you make them address your personhood as someone they have known and do know isn’t an evil person who hates god, eats babies, and worships Satan.
It reminds me of the success the LGBTs have had by coming out in droves. It is one thing to hate the faceless scourge of America and their “agenda”; it is quite another thing to hate the two nice young men who live next door and take care of your pets and your mail when you are gone. It is quite another thing to hate your best friend’s son whom you have watched grow up for the last thirty years, or to hate someone whom you have worked next to for the last decade.
However, they have to KNOW WHAT YOU ARE. The only way we will ever gain mainstream acceptance, is to out ourselves and to force them to make a choice. Granted, haters gotta hate, and it is impossible to gain mainstream acceptance with some of them, just like some racists will always hate people of color and there is nothing to be done about those people……except to gain so much acceptance that they huddle and mutter among their ever-shrinking number of like-minded bigots, but rarely expose their antiquated prejudices in public.
I understand the personal, social, and employment blowback that is out there just waiting for you to expose yourself as unchurched. However, until you do, we will always be the faceless “other”.