Many atheists I know are still in the proverbial closet. They don’t scream it from the rooftops or wear a sign around their necks proclaiming the good news of atheism. They go about their daily tasks, interacting with people from all walks of life who never ask about their beliefs. Many of the people they interact with assume they are religious, many don’t even think about it. Some closeted atheists experience quite a few instances of “assumptive Christianity” on a daily basis.
“How are you today?” “I’m blessed and so are you, brother!”
“Achoo.” “God bless you.”
“Let us pray before our lunch meeting.”
“Would you like to come to this event at my church?”
“Are you ready for Christmas? Easter?”
“I’m sorry you are hurting. You should pray about that.”
“I will pray for you.”
The above examples, while generally innocuous, are still examples of Christians wearing their Christianity proudly and assuming everyone holds the same religious views. Why is it, then, when an atheist says anything that attests to their atheism, they are accused of being militant or divisive? Is our place to just nod silently and belie our beliefs? Why should we have to tiptoe around these issues for fear of being ostracized?
I have scrolled past many Facebook praise reports, prayer requests and general Christian acknowledgements without commenting or addressing the fallacies involved. Just about every time; however, I address what I consider a harmful thought process, there is a problem. When I passionately begged a friend to stop praying and start fighting for change, another friend was so offended she not only deleted me, but was sure to write a post about it unbeknownst to me. This was especially hurtful because this person never asked for clarification or talked to me directly, even though I explained my atheism to her months prior. Was she just not paying attention, or was my atheism ok as long as I didn’t talk about it?
Lately, I have grown resentful of the term “passionate” in response to my discussions on important topics. It’s beginning to feel like the term “emotional” as it is used to shut down women who complain too loudly.
“Wow, you’re passionate!”
“Gee, honey, stop being so emotional.”
Get the correlation? I am certainly a passionate person who wants to change the world in which my children are growing up. I am certainly passionate about freeing people from the mental slavery of religion. I am also passionate about calling out racism and sexism in all its forms, but when that adjective is used to describe me with no follow up or continued discussion of the topic at hand, it feels empty, like another tool used to push me back into the closet.
To that I respectfully say, “no.” I will not be silent. I will not hold my tongue 100% of the time. I will not stand by while you make terrible decisions in the name of faith. I may not be a militant anti-theist (yet,) but I am most certainly not a silent atheist either. Many of us have badges of honor. I will wear mine just as proudly as you wear yours.