I thought I had been open about my skepticism and conclusions regarding the unlikely existence of any gods. I openly declared my atheism not many years ago. It felt great and I was happy to be freely expressing my honest opinion, one I’d held for years prior to admitting, “Yes. I am an atheist.” My doubts became my story.
After I let people with access to my Facebook posts know I did not believe in god, I noticed that some things changed. I also discovered that while some folks decided not to continue initiating communication with me, they would respond. Okay, that’s fine. I expected believers to take a step back or just end any relationship we had. As far as I can tell, no one chose the latter. The limited reaction was less than expected.
Then, last week I announced my pending hospital incarceration following a significant medical procedure. I’m home now and fine. I also knew their thoughts, prayers, and healing energy would be offered. Also, fine. One person said she would pray and didn’t care what I thought of it. I clicked like for her comment and I said, thank you. Not a problem. I am an atheist, not an ass hole.
One man said he would be thinking about me, but that he was “not much of a church goer” (i.e., excuse me if I do not offer to pray for you), but he wished me good luck. As I typed my response, I noticed that I was reluctant to tell him that “this atheist” appreciated his kind words, concern, and would rather he not pray for me. I realized my reluctance to tell him I am atheist. Why is that? It’s not a secret. I thought I wanted people to know.
I am not in any closet. Yet, I stopped to consider the consequences of telling the truth. Others would see it. Others would judge.
Last week “someone” posted here that I was a fool for not believing in god, that I would meet god face-to-face, but it would then be too late. We all know what he or she (“someone” is how WP listed the name) was implying by too late.
Some people are fond of informing me that I shall burn for an eternity in Hell because I choose not to believe what I seem unable to believe. I need to keep in mind that the antipathy of many believers toward atheists (and vice-versa) is seeded with fear. But either I am out, open, and honest, or I am not.
It’s not only me, is it?