Come Out, Speak Out, Keep Warm Out December 16, 2010

Come Out, Speak Out, Keep Warm Out

A while back, I saw Amanda Metskas (executive director of Camp Quest) wearing an awesome scarf:

Where did she get one of those? Well, she made it herself. (You can tell from the red strands in the picture that she wasn’t completely done with this one yet.)

Now, those of you with knitting skills can make one, too.

Amanda has written out the instructions (PDF) on Ravelry so you can create an Atheist scarf of your own:

If you end up making one of these scarves, please take pictures and send them to me! I know Amanda would be thrilled to see what you can do with this 🙂

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  • Ubi Dubium

    It’s not just the red strands hanging down, it’s the knitting needle on the other end of the scarf that’s a give-away. As a fellow knitter, I say well done! I think I’d want fringe on mine, though.

  • James

    I think I would happily spend 15 dollars and 5 in shipping on one of those. Buy three for the family.

    Can I get one in pride colors fading into the black ends with the A. Now that would be sweet.

  • ScarletA

    Well done, Amanda. and I agree with Ubi Dubium: some of us on the fringe will indeed want to sport the fringe!

  • Deanna

    Just wondering why the need to advertise that you do not believe in something. I don’t believe in aliens, but I don’t wear clothing to advertise that. When you push against something…that means you think there is something to push against.

  • microbiologychick

    @James, $15 is not enough. This scarf took many hours of work more than that.

    @Deanna, Christians often go around with crucifixes, bible verse purses, cross this and that, etc… It’s in our face all the time. An atheist scarf is a great way to advertise and hopefully make connections with people who think like you.

  • coyotenose

    By your own logic, every time someone wears a cross, prays, or goes to church, it’s because they secretly think there is no god.

    And there *is* something to push against: the ignorance, superstition, and poor reasoning skills that harm us all.

  • @Deanna: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

  • Richard P.

    great answer.

  • Min

    that means you think there is something to push against.

    Well, of course they’re pushing against something: religious control of the government and our personal lives, discrimination against non-Christians, and the concept that atheists are a marginal, unimportant part of society.

    Of course you don’t feel the need to advertise your disbelief in aliens — but imagine if 90% of people around you did. Not only that, but you had to profess belief in aliens to get any sort of position in government, people would hate you and deride you if they knew you didn’t believe, and many people were (successfully) pushing to change textbooks in school to indicate that aliens exist. Knowing that aliens do not exist, might you feel the need to push back against that?

  • Deanna

    I don’t know where you live that you feel so discriminated against. If I went in to work and talked about God all the time….they’d fire me too! No God in school, no God at work, no God on any public display. Seems to me that you folks got the majority! Don’t use your belief system to exclude yourselves. By the way…I don’t know that aliens don’t exist. I just believe that they don’t because I haven’t seen one. But just because I don’t beleive something doesn’t mean that’s what the truth is. We often think that our beliefs are a powerful contribution to the truth. The truth stands as it is, whether we believe it or not.

  • Min

    I’m not sure I follow your logic here. Are you trying to say that wearing a scarf with an A on it is equivalent to going into a government job and talking about God all the time? The government isn’t allowed to endorse religion, so if that’s what you want to do, the solution is to get a job in the private sector. You can talk about God all you want there, provided that your co-workers put up with it.

  • Vanessa

    I don’t know where you live that you feel so discriminated against.

    Um, it’s called the United States of America. Just ask anyone if they would vote for an atheist president.

  • Deanna

    We did vote for an athiest president.

  • Deanna

    @Min…I wasn’t saying that I want to talk about God all of the time at work. I was pointing out the fact that you all seem to think that you can’t voice your non belief in God without getting fired. I was pointing out that the same would happen to me if I voiced my belief in Him at work. Really, if our goal at work is to express our beliefs…we should be fired. Do your job, collect your check and go home. Why does everyone feel that they need to advertise their stuff in the workplace?

  • Gloria

    I think I find a scarf with the letter A on it just as annoying as a scarf with a cross. Having said that, would people really know what the f the A stood for??

    Maybe it’s different in Australia, but I’ve never felt discriminated against for being atheist. I think Deanna’s points were fair though the response’s to them seem condescending and UNfair.

  • Richard Wade


    We did vote for an athiest president.

    Did you think so at the time? If you didn’t think so at the time, and you’re now unhappy about that, then you’re just confirming the prejudice. What are you getting at by this statement?

    I didn’t know he was left-handed until I saw him sign a bill. There’s no way I would have voted for him if I had known he was left-handed.

  • Richard Wade

    Deanna, I agree with you that the workplace should be for work, rather than for expressing our personal views.

    Unfortunately, in that opinion, you and I are in a small minority in large regions of the U.S. I have received hundreds of letters from people, and many of them relate stories about their workplaces. They very often go like this:

    The work done is technical and industrial. The boss quotes scripture at the staff meetings. The office manager has a Bible always on top of his desk. The interoffice emails have Biblical quotations at the bottom. Office space is crowded, but one room is a dedicated Christian chapel, and it’s a taxpayer-supported government office. The staff is urged to participate in charity drives or charity work to represent the company, and all the options are religious organizations.

    The worker in the next cubicle plays gospel music really loud and the letter writer asks him repeatedly to turn it down, because he’s trying to do his work. The gospel guy asks him point blank if he believes in God. The letter writer replies honestly but politely that no, he doesn’t.

    Big mistake.

    Suddenly things go downhill. Co-workers who used to be amiable start shunning him. The office manager calls him in to talk to him about his “attitude,” even though he’s never had anything but praise for his work before. The promotion that seemed to be assured is given to, guess who, the gospel music guy. Eventually, the letter writer is fired for vague and obviously bogus reasons.

    This is not uncommon, but it is seldom fought in court, and seldom reported in the media. The prejudiced perpetrators know well enough to cover their legal asses, which shows that they know what they’re doing is unethical and in many cases illegal, but they feel fully justified in this kind of behavior.

    Deanna, I think you are living in a very sheltered place if you are not aware of this stuff. It shouldn’t be done to a Christian either, but I don’t hear very many stories about them getting the same consequences just for answering one question about their beliefs honestly.

  • Sara


    You’re incorrect Deanna. Most people don’t want to talk about their atheism at work. In the US I’m sure many atheists are afraid of being fired if they do. You’re allowed to wear a cross or some other religious symbol if you choose, usually without repercussions (unless jewelry is against company policy)

    There is nothing wrong with wearing a little item to state that we are proud of what we are, and possibly find another person out there in the great sea of religion that might think the same way.

    As for your comments on God in government. We just want no mention of religion at all. It’s not like we are asking the government to say there is no God and that everyone has to be atheists. We want them to be neutral. There is no reason to make other people sit there and listen to your prayers. If teachers or students or government employees want to pray they should do so on their own time.

    Some Christians need to stop equating a loss of some of their extensive privilege to being persecuted.

    as to the post. Love this pattern. I’m on ravelry myself and love knitting! I may have to knit one of these up. And before a lot of people start offering to buy one. The materials alone would cost 15 bucks if you went on the cheap. Nice materials probably twice as much (as it’s a double sided scarf). Plus the amount of work it takes for a hand knit scarf. It’s not like we can whip these out in a day. Your best bet is to find a family member that knits and beg them to make you one 😉

  • Nicole

    Mass produced machine-knit pieces has made the pricing of handmade knit pieces seem really weird. It’s a shame, but then again, here I am wearing a machine knit scarf I paid five dollars for, so I guess I’m part of the problem 🙁

    I know I tried knitting for a while and it would take a ludicrous amount of money to just coax a plain ol’ seed stitched scarf out of me. Never doing that again 🙂

  • We did vote for an athiest president.

    We did? Did I miss some big announcement? Obama openly professes Christianity. He did so repeatedly during the campaign, and he has continued to claim Christianity since the election. If he were an atheist, however, he would have good reason to fear being open about it. This Gallup poll found that 53% of Americans would not vote for an atheist candidate. This is more than the percentage who refuse to vote for other minority groups, including gays and Mormons. Atheists are at the very bottom of the list.

  • Deanna

    Ok, my statment about the President was a little tounge in cheek. I don’t know what he is, but a lot of folks I know think that he is not a believer and to your point, I suppose, that he won’t come out and say because he may not succeed in politics. I do think the majority would have a problem voting for a non believer. But I think that is because they don’t have an idea of what his moral code is, not because they are such believers themselves.
    Richard…working in HR many years ago, I had to tell a guy to take his Bible off of his desk because it was offending someone in the office. I have to ask though…is other people praying or playing gospel music really that offensive? Just asking. Reading this site has really opened my eyes about atheism! I thought you folks just didn’t believe in God, didn’t care about people who did and went on with your lives. I’ve got a neighbor just like that. The fellow has 3 kids and celebrates both Christmas and Hannuka (sp?) because his wife grew up Jewish. He has told me that he doesn’t believe in anything he just celebrates the consumerism part of it for the kids. He’s not offended by the nativity scenes in the neighborhood, neither is his wife for that matter. They are the “whatever floats your boat” type. You guys seem to gather and think and talk about your non belief a lot. You’re kinda like your own church. Interesting.

  • Steve

    Beliefs become a problem when they intrude into other peoples’ lives. If someone wants to pray and listen to religious music all day, fine. Just do in private. Not at work and not out on the street. When people do that, they force their beliefs on others. As for the music – use some headphones. Any kind of music from co-workers is distracting.

    Evangelical Christians (especially in the US) have the habit of trying to convert everyone else and having everyone to live under their rules, no matter what anyone else believes in. In hyper-religious countries (such as the US), there is absolutely no way to avoid it. That’s one reason why atheists are talking about religion and organize themselves a little bit. We don’t believe in it, but it still affects us to some degree.

  • Wow – wish I knew how to knit!

  • Richard Wade


    I have to ask though…is other people praying or playing gospel music really that offensive? Just asking.

    In the example I described, I said that the man in the next cubicle played gospel music REALLY LOUD.

    The genre of the music was not what annoyed the letter writer, it was the volume. The fact that it was gospel music was the reason that the man who was playing it felt justified in his inconsiderate and self-centered behavior, and why he directly challenged the letter writer in an accusatory way if he believed in God. The gospel player’s self-righteous attitude was another example of that particular workplace’s culture that favored Christians with privilege and indulgence, and anyone who merely didn’t participate, much less objected, was seriously penalized socially and professionally.

    Your story,

    Richard…working in HR many years ago, I had to tell a guy to take his Bible off of his desk because it was offending someone in the office.

    should not have happened either. If all it was, and nothing else, was merely the presence of a Bible on the guy’s desk, then the complainer was being a ridiculous ass, and should have been told so. I worked alongside very religious people, and couldn’t care less about Bibles on their desks or them praying quietly at their own work station during lunch. For me to be annoyed, one of them would have had to stand right next to me, loudly spouting chapter and verse like some fruitcake sidewalk preacher. If that had happened, then like the gospel music incident, I would not have objected to the content of his utterances, only the distraction from my work or my relaxation time. Fortunately, that never happened because the work culture where I worked promoted simple courtesy toward everyone and focusing on getting the job done, rather than giving license for the majority to express themselves in thoughtless ways.

    You said,

    Reading this site has really opened my eyes about atheism! I thought you folks just didn’t believe in God, didn’t care about people who did and went on with your lives…
    …You guys seem to gather and think and talk about your non belief a lot. You’re kinda like your own church. Interesting.

    No, I don’t think your eyes are opened yet, and I don’t think they will be until and unless you actually have some atheists as close friends about whom you care.

    You are not paying close attention to what we’re actually discussing on this site. Would, oh would that it were so that all atheists could, just as you say, just not believe in God, not care about people who do, and go on with our lives. All that it would take would be for the tens of millions of theists surrounding us to just believe in God, not care about people who don’t, and go on with their lives.

    But a hell of a lot of them don’t do that, do they? They don’t all think “God is just love,” like you do. They’re not all “live and let live,” like you are.

    I don’t give a rodent’s rump what believers believe. I don’t come here to this site to discuss such irrelevant trivia. But believers aren’t content to keep their beliefs in their homes and churches, or even on the sidewalk or the city park.

    Instead, they constantly intrude their beliefs into five rooms where they don’t belong: Other people’s bedrooms, public school classrooms, the halls of legislatures, doctors’ offices, and research laboratories. If they would take your advice, just believe what they believe and not care about what others believe, then I could get away from this infernal computer and spend more time watching the clouds roll by.

    hurt my friends, real people, denying them the rights we all should enjoy. Believers hurt education in this country, turning ignorance into a virtue, wearing it as a badge of pride. Believers gladly accept the gifts of science even as they undermine its basic foundations. Believers enjoy their freedom of worship even as they erode that freedom for others, and eventually themselves. I don’t care what believers believe, I care about what they do with their beliefs, and a lot of it is very destructive stuff.

    Your taking-it-easy neighbor is living a good life. Good for him. A few of us, however, have had to struggle painfully for our freedom just to be able to think straight, and so we don’t take freedom for granted. We want to protect it for ourselves and everyone else too, you included.

  • Deanna

    Richard…the only thing I take issue with in your comment is that you say that we turn “ignorance into a virtue.” At the end of the day we ALL have to admit that we really don’t know what stands beyond this life. And ANYONE who says that they do is beyond arrogant. How about we say that the believers turn faith into a virtue. Because that it was it is. We have faith and hope that all of this is for a purpose beyond this silly little world full of toys and games. Where many come to suffer then die. I watch the news and have faith and hope that there is something better than this beyond this. What is the meaning of life for athiests? How do you get through this life believing there is nothing to go home to? I ask you this not condescendingly…but I am genuinely curious.

  • Steve

    Missed the point again. You just make about the afterlife. That’s not what Richard meant. We don’t know if there is one. But believers are often ignorant about what we do know about this world. And they want to spread that ignorance to other people – especially children in school.

  • Deanna

    Sorry, I didn’t understand. What ignorance is that?

  • Richard Wade

    Thank you, Steve. And thank you Deanna, for asking for clarification. Here are some examples of the ignorance and the portrayal of ignorance as a virtue that I’m talking about:

    Not you perhaps, but many believers, and demagogic politicians who appeal to believers insist on promoting in public schools and even in government science organizations, such as NASA and the National Institute of Health, scripture-based versions of biology, geology, history and even astronomy. Any physical, verifiable evidence that contradicts their interpretation of scripture is disregarded or characterized as falsehood using twisted interpretations and fallacious arguments. Pseudoscientific organizations such as the Discovery Institute even put this predetermined bias into their published guidelines. They proudly boast that it doesn’t matter what they find in the real world. If it doesn’t fit their Bronze Age “theories,” it has to be false.

    This is active, willful ignorance. It’s an ignorance that doesn’t just sit there in one ignorant person’s mind, it works hard to reproduce itself and spread like a virus to millions of minds. It is steadily turning the United States into a backward, superstitious, quaint tourist destination while the rest of civilization moves ahead into the future. People from around the world will come to take photos of our picturesque crumbling buildings like they do in Greece today, both marveling and puzzling over a culture that rose so high but then fell into stagnation, insularity and ineptitude.

    Not you perhaps, but many theists share a widespread attitude of suspicion and disdain for advanced education. Parents will be generally okay with their kids being educated up to high school, because up to that level, very little of what they’re taught conflicts with their religious dogma. For instance, many teachers will just skip units on evolution because they’re sick of having to fight with “offended” fundamentalist parents.

    But when kids go to college, they’re exposed to new ideas and new information with solid and convincing evidence to support them. The kids begin to question the simplistic ideas that they were taught at home and in church. Many atheists started their deconversion in college.

    Many parents are alarmed by this and begin to see advanced education in general as a very dangerous thing. Feeding on that fear, those same demagogic politicians will paint highly educated people as “elitist” and will spin their own lack of knowledge and education as a desirable qualification for office, essentially saying, “I’m like you. I’m not educated. You can trust me. I won’t try to fool you with complicated facts. I’ll just feed you simple sound bytes and cliches. Vote for me.” We had a large crop of these running in the last election.

    Deanna, I’m talking about all this not to run down theists and Christians. I’m continually coming from wanting to help you understand my motives and the motives of other atheists who care about stopping this cultural deterioration and are actively working to promote knowledge and rationality over ignorance and superstition.

    What is the meaning of life for atheists is an often asked and well answered question. I think there are previous posts here on this site that discuss this thoroughly. Here is one that I remember that has short, pithy answers to many questions that you might have, including some about meaning in life. Always ask atheists that question, because they’re the only ones who would know. There are many articles written by theists about the meaning of life for atheists, and none that I have ever found were written by someone who actually knew any atheists. They just pulled their ideas out of their rectums.

    I’m hoping that someone else here will discuss this in a positive way with you. I need to get some stuff done in the Third Dimension for a while. Thank you again for hanging in there with your sincere questions.

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