Young Atheists Are Coming Out of the Closet August 18, 2009

Young Atheists Are Coming Out of the Closet

There’s a great article about how young people are coming out as atheists. It’s by Kate Shellnutt and appears in the online magazine Shift.

I’m mentioned in the piece and it’s one of the rare times where the details about me are actually accurate. You’d be surprised how often that doesn’t happen…

Our friend Ron Gold is also mentioned, as is Dave Silverman:

“The problem with atheism is that many atheists thought they were alone, but with the Internet, they’ve become connected with millions like them,” said David Silverman, spokesman for the American Atheists, a civil rights group based in Cranford, N.J., which offers scholarships to atheist activists in high school and college.

As more college campuses provide opportunities for students to get involved in groups of nonbelievers, it’s becoming easier for younger people to identify as atheists.

Now is definitely a better time to be a college atheist than ever before.

And while the Secular Student Alliance had 150 affiliates this past year, we’re growing fast:


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • JulietEcho

    Hooray for a more friendly environment for young atheists coming out of the closet, so to speak. I was nineteen by the time I felt comfortable calling myself an atheist, and it made a big difference to be at a college where it wasn’t stigmatized, and to be involved in a secular humanist group.

  • keddaw

    I look with constant bemusement at the small steps atheists make in the USA. Coming from the UK I simply laugh (not in a cruel way, usually) at anyone who professes any form of supernatural belief. I find it hard to believe that young adults, in a university no less, feel uncomfortable saying what they think.

    So while these seem like baby steps I am glad they are happening as I hate to see any person/group (minority or otherwise) shunned and closeted.

    In a free and open society all beliefs and ideas should be open and freely discussed, if only to show that the bad ones have better alternatives.

  • I often get details wrong about Hemant as well. I describe him as a 7’8″ Abraham Lincolnesque figure (but only in his style of dress) who rules Chicago with an iron fist, driving a Mercedes-Benz with only the most beautiful of women at his side. I also sometimes hint he can levitate things with his mind, to the great disdain of James Randi.

    But yes, that is very good. The more youth who come out and organize, the better for our cause.

  • Thanks for linking to the article, and I’m glad I got your facts straight. It’s always good when sources are happy!

  • Mike Ashe

    Old white men, eh? I didn’t feel like 46 was that old until I read that….


  • Speaking of new SSA affiliated student groups. . . *cough cough*

    Click on my name *cough*

    Ahem. Excuse me.

  • Dan W

    Good article. I’m a white male, but come on, 20 isn’t that old. I might add that, while I’m sure my parents and sister know I’m not a religious person, I’ve never “come out” as an atheist to any family members. Mainly this is because none of my immediate family goes to church (and, in fact, we haven’t for years), and we just tend not to talk about religion much. I suspect my mom’s a deist, and honestly don’t know what my dad’s and my sister’s religious views are. I’ve never found it necessary to tell them that I’m an atheist.

    So far, I’ve been reluctant to let any friends know I’m an atheist, with a few exceptions. I mostly avoid talking about religion among friends as well. However, if anyone were to ask me what my religious views are, I’d tell them straight out that I’m an atheist. This has hardly ever happened. I suspect I’ll be more likely to let people know about my atheism without them asking after I get out of college and start living on my own, having a job, and so forth.

  • ZombieGirl

    One reason I “come out” to my friends is because I want to know if they are going to ditch me after finding out that I’m an atheist. I have had a couple of “friends” who did that to me, and I’m glad they’re out of my life. 🙂

    I read somewhere that 2/3 of self defined atheists are men.

  • cat

    Maybe they should not hide so very well. Seriously, my school has an affiliate group and I can never find them (their website link from the SSA website doesn’t work either and I hate facebook). Pretty much everyone I know knows I’m an atheist, but still, those SSA people are good at hiding. I have yet to find one of them.

  • Jordan

    I think it’s sad when people feel the need to be furtive with their religious, or in our case non-religious, beliefs. While it’s not the first thing I discuss with people I meet, being overly-analytical, it usually comes up after a few discussions. If someone refuses to be your friend because of religious beliefs, then why on earth would you ever want company as close-minded as that?!?!

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