An Atheist Gets Outed May 4, 2009

An Atheist Gets Outed

Look at all the things this atheist had to do to hide her atheism from her family:

I was very careful to cover my tracks, and I hated living the lie. I sanitized my online profiles, I hid my browsing history, hid my writings, I bowed my head during family prayers, and it killed me inside. Every time I had to pretend to pray for a meal when visiting, or attend church, or lie about attending a Christian club, I felt trapped and tortured.

Despite all this, her mom discovered she was an atheist. She then seemed to play every card in the Christian evangelist handbook (and then some): accusing the daughter of “rebelling”… saying it was ok since her daughter had “already accepted Jesus Christ” at an earlier age… blaming videogames… it goes on.

Despite all that, what’s the reaction from the newly-outed atheist?


… I felt relieved that I didn’t have to hide who I was anymore. While I had been planning on coming out shortly after my graduation in a few weeks, I’m glad that stress is off.

I hope it gets better for her from this point forward. And I thank her for sharing her story.

The Everything Else Atheist, as she calls herself, also has a very interesting analogy for the question of why God permits evil and the Christian explanation that God loves us but the Fall of Man let sin into the world (edited version below):

Robbers break in and hold you and your family at gun and knifepoint. They are going to do terrible things to you. Right outside, there is a S.W.A.T. team that saw the whole thing happen and has the power to free you. But the captain once overheard you say, “fuck the police,” and refuses to send in the team, insisting that you deserve it.

I’ve never heard it put quite that way before… I like it.

What do you think?

(via Atheist Girls)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I quite like it as an analogy. Quite hard hitting an in terms that might work well for the lowest common denominator

  • My father passed away recently. He and my mother both knew how I felt and never tried to change my thinking. But during the funeral, I heard the dumbest things in those 3 days. My favourite one was “God always takes the goods ones.” I took every bit of strength I had not to reply “Really? He has a funny way of taking people then. Giving them colon cancer. Letting them dry up and die a slow painful death. I can totally see how God treats the ‘Good ones'”

    Sadly, after 3 days of sitting around praying (not me, everyone around me), during one of the prayers, I accidentally crossed myself. Probably reverting back to when I was an alter boy all those years ago. I caught myself though and out loud I said “what the fuck am I doing?” My friends giggled because they knew how the whole thing was eating me.

  • Wouldn’t the analogy be better if, rather than you having said “fuck the police”, it was actually a dead great grandparent that you hadn’t met? I know it sort of strains the police story, but it better reflects how we are punished for the supposed acts that were supposedly sinful committed by supposed ancestors of ours that supposedly lived long before our births.

  • I like Ron Brown’s suggestion!

  • Actually, the analogy is even worse than that Ron:

    Original Sin is less like you saying “fuck the police/God” or even your ancestors once saying “fuck the police/God”. It’s like your grandfather got a parking ticket once, and so the officer won’t help you.

    (Also, it doesn’t matter if it was a traffic violation or homicide. The point still stands. One could say it should be homicide (a serious crime) to be on par with the fact that eating of the Tree of Knowledge was the only and therefore was a serious law. I would disagree, but the analogy is no less apt regardless.)

  • Good analogy, and I third Ron Brown’s suggestion.

  • Of course to fully develop the analogy, the SWAT team captain never sends in the SWAT team for anyone. Not ever. It is said he only saves you after you die, and then only if you believed in him and prayed, pleaded, and pandered while you were still alive.

    And there is no statistical difference between how people die based on whether or not they did any praying, pleading, and pandering.

  • Somero

    Wouldn’t it be better if the SWAT team and robbers were somehow the same group?

  • GG

    I’m going to go read her whole story. I’m a closeted atheist in my family, and I feel encouraged by other experiences. 🙂

  • Thank you for the support, Friendly Atheist and fellow commenters! It’s really nice knowing that we atheists have developed this fantastic support system of shared experiences and can come together in support when something terrible like this happens.

    I do like the dead great-grandfather extension for an explanation of original sin. My initial analogy was for the sins of the individual rejecting god, and I hadn’t thought of addressing original sin. I will most definitely be tacking that on at the end: “and as for original sin, your great-grandfather was the one who said ‘fuck the police’, not you.”

    Thank you again for the support, and I am really appreciative of all the empathy. I hope one day kids in the future won’t have to go through that hell I, and others, have.

  • anonymouse

    closeted atheist (to my family, not to friends). She must be relieved. The only reason I don’t come out is that my mom is Xtian and would truly be depressed and believe I am going to hell. She’d probably be sad every day of her life and I don’t want to do that to her. That makes me even more resentful of religion because it would kill our relationship if she found out.

  • Ramon Caballero

    I don’t like the analogy, because it is missing the important introduction: “If there was such a god, it would be like…”
    And the most important disclaimer afterwards: “The previous statement doesn’t recognize the existence of any deity, it was a hypothetical story and it cannot be used against the lack of believing of the storyteller” 🙂

  • lizzyshoe

    I feel exactly like this girl does, before being outed, but I fear my father won’t be so much concerned for my soul as he will be angry with my decision. He will take it very personally, and I think it might break his heart. I don’t know when I plan to come out, but I wish I could do it without hurting him or the rest of my famly.

  • If this is to be truly analogous to the Christian view that “god loves us but allowed sin into the world” it would have to incorporate some notion of our getting ourselves into the jam in the first place (the free will card).

    The issue is confused with the vengeance aspect, since (again, on the Christian view) god doesn’t NOT intervene because he was spoken ill of (or in general dissed).

    So maybe it has to be something like: you and your family wander into the lair of some very bad people (having been misled by the local police) These bad people are threatening to do you great harm. The police find out about this, but fail to respond, saying “It’s their own fault. They shouldn’t have been in the area.”

    The problem with finding analogies is that the whole damn thing is too contradictory. We would have to believe that the policeman who sent us into the lair did so knowingly, but loved us, which we cannot capture in any believable real life scenario!

    Or maybe I’m being way to picky here! Thought provoking, though.

  • emill

    Best explanation of evil ever is in “The Living End” by Stanley Elkin. I don’t want to give away the details, but basically God admits that he made evil because it makes for a better story.

  • That police analogy might not be the best one to use, since something even more egregious happened recently: a 911 dispatcher refused to dispatch an ambulance because the caller swore on the line. Report here.

  • Jove

    The parallels between coming out as an atheist and LGBT always get me every time. As a gay atheist, I honestly worry more about what people would think of me as an atheist than as gay.

    I feel like the atheism movement is where the gay rights movement was twenty or thirty years ago – and I’m excited to help make a difference in both communities.

    What’s interesting is that it’s easier to be gay in the atheist movement than atheist in the gay movement, in my experience.

  • That analogy would be much better if we were to say also that the robbers and the S.W.A.T. team are all the same person who can be in many places at once.

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