Fellow Atheists/Agnostic Atheists - Let's Chat: Do you feel it is risky being "out" these days?

I want one of those fancy tibettan sky burials.

ruhk wrote:

I know there's no way in hell it would ever actually happen, but I've always said that I want to be cooked & served at my wake.

ruhk wrote:

I know there's no way in hell it would ever actually happen, but I've always said that I want to be cooked & served at my wake.

Probably that's the only place it would happen.

I'm openly Pagan but my younger brother and his wife are Atheists. I can tell you he has no problems being open about it, but he lives in Kansas City. He states it comes down to being reasonable and letting people know he doesn't care what their faith is but he respects it. He just chooses to believe in facts and science.

I mainly wanted to share the reality of my family life. I am an openly Pagan, my younger brother is Atheist, and my older brother is Evangelical Christian. Imagine how giving grace goes when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner.

"Good food, good meat, good gawd let's eat!"

"Dear lord, you didn't provide any of this food, so get bent!"

(Paraphrased from Bart Simpson)


Anyone heard about this UT-Chattanooga study recently? Classifies atheists into 6 general categories: Intellectual Atheist, Activist, Seeker, Anti-Theist, Non-Theist and Ritual Atheist. I don't think it's all that surprising if you're an atheist who knows a lot of other atheists, but it seems to be making a stir among more religious types. Maybe the more interesting thing about this is that there as a group, atheists make up 20% of the US population, and there are so few studies like this trying to understand who they/we are.

study results:

shorter summary:

I'd definitely put myself in the Intellectual Atheist group. I'd like to be more of an activist, but I don't like to confront people. That said, I won't shy away from discussion if someone else brings it up.

I fit into the anti-theist category up until a couple of years ago when I switched jobs and wasn't constantly being attacked by religious coworkers. Moving to a more liberal area also helped. I think now I'm somewhere between intellectual atheist and activist, more so because of the social and humanist aspects listed than anything else, though.

I would put myself in the Activist group, maybe the Intellectual group. I definitely don't seek out theists to tell them they're wrong, but if I get confronted by one, I'm going to put them in their place. I think most theists would see that as me being an anti-theist and seeking out a confrontation, not realizing that they are the ones initiating the confrontation by espousing a theist position.

I used to have a lot more of the brimstone and hellfire in me, but after I left college, I realized that assholes are assholes, regardless of their creed, and that I was being one by being so vehemently anti-theist.

Nowadays, I definitely vacillate between Intellectual Atheist and Activist, depending on the situation. Though on Passover, I'm definitely a Ritual Atheist.

I'm a bit shaky on some of those categories but hey, such are categories.

Like most people I'd be part intellectual/ activist. I'm boring, when I'm not inadvertently starting twitter debates.

That girl with the sign is going to Hell...

...for using Comic Sans.

I looked around and figured this was the best place to get feedback on my current situation. My wife randomly brought up the afterlife the other night and how I would explain it to my daughter's. 1.5 and 6 months old. This brought up my agnostic /atheist beliefs and i basically came out as atheist. Previously I was more agnostic and felt there was a greater power of some sort but really I feel that there is no great source or god to speak of. This wasn't really the way I wanted to breach the subject but it is done. Now she feels Betrayed and thinks that I'm taking something away from our family. I have always stated that no matter my beliefs that I would respect hers and allow her to share them with our girls. Now though that I have stated I don't believe and look more towards logic and science she feels I will take God away from our girls. I'm feel so hurt that she isn't willing to listen or try to understand my ideals and is calling me selfish saying that because I don't have God, I must think everything I have is o nly because of me. I'm worried that she won't accept my new "lack of faith" as she calls it. I'm worried that my marriage is now done and I will not get to see my girls every day. I hope she can come to accept and respect my right to have my own beliefs and ti share them with my girls. I know that if she can't it is better for us and my kids that we do separate but it is not what even remotely want. Just typing that almost made me lose it at my desk. This was not the reaction I was expecting g at all.

Ok, well, this is a heavy subject, but the first thing I would do is most definitely NOT approach this as a marriage-ender. I wouldn't even broach the idea, and if she does, tell her that it doesn't have to be. Because it really doesn't, unless either one of you makes it one. That is, if you determine that you can't be with a believer (which I gather you haven't reached that point), or she determines that she can't be with a non-believer.

How did you present yourself before? As a full-on believer? If so, I can see why she feels betrayed, but I gather she she knew that your thoughts were someone more geared towards agnostic theism based on the fact that she even bothered asking.

I know you're scared, and the first reflex may be to be intimidated back into the "closet" so-to-speak, but this can be repaired, although with effort on both of your parts. For one, she feels like the trust has been breached, and is saying a whole bunch of things in what is, in effect, a temper tantrum. She's hoping to get you to back off from this position by making broad, upsetting claims that may or may not have any real basis in her true feelings. My father did the same thing when I brought up my atheism. He told me that I could no longer be his son, and then yelled at me, "How can I stand up there next to the body of Christ with an atheist son!" (Catholic family - oy.) It took him all of ten minutes alone, after walking away, to come back and, not only recant on that statement, but flat out deny he ever said it in the first place (my mother corroborated that he, in fact, had said such a thing).

If the fires of that first confrontation are still burning a little, I'd say approach her with a proposal that maybe you both need calmer heads to discuss it, as hearing her responses were pretty upsetting in their own right, and your thoughts on the matter were never meant to betray her, and you didn't arrive at these conclusions to attack her.

I don't know your wife, (or you very well beyond your forum posts), so I can't say exactly what your next step should be, but the first thing you should both do is come to a calmer place and help her realize that the "broken trust" or "betrayal" (if it can even be called such, because, really, when your thoughts come to conclusions and your convictions change, it really is quite a bit beyond your control in the first place), and your delay in telling her how you felt was not out of malice, but out of a combination of coming to terms with it yourself, and fear of her reaction.

If she's at all reasonable and amenable to discussion, this should be a good jumping-off point for starting to understand one another. Your relationship will change, but it doesn't have to end, and deciding how everything should be after one heated confrontation is only going to hurt both of you. This is the best advice I have.

"It was just a test of your faith, honey. And guess what? YOU PASSED."

I'll just +1 everything NSMike said; that was an awesome post.

I have nothing to say other than I hope it is something you both can work through with honest conversation. Is this the first time you both have had a real conversation on faith, the afterlife, and other matters of religion or mysticism?

Personally, I cannot fathom the theological divide some people experience. Typically my Muslim and Protestant friends cannot and would not marry outside of their faith; even that they might be disowned by their families for even openly dating outside of the faith. I know Catholics and Jewish families that raise their children in both faiths-attending church and synagogue as a family, receiving sacraments and Bar/Botmitzvas. I know Pagans with Christian spouses. Hell, my aunt in Chicago is not of any christian denomination but was actively Wicca and her husband is the son of a Baptist minister.

Then again, not having a deep faith belief has been a requisite of mine for a mate for a long time, and my wife and I are very happy to have found non-believing spouses. And I ended up breaking it off with my girlfriend before my wife when her belief in ghosts, spirits, and crystal power set my teeth grinding.

So I will never quite get why this can become such a dividing line.

Thanks for the post NS Mike. I am going to give her time to think, cool down, and hopefully be ready to talk. She is the one who stated that she doesn't know if she can be in a marriage without God. It is frustrating because I feel sue has gotten much more religious as I have moved in the opposite direction. I hope that she can come to terms and realize that I am not out to poison our children s minds and just want respect for how I feel.

Ultimately that's all you can do. I'm married to a non-devout catholic, and I never minded baptisms and the like. I don't mind religion in general and can see positive aspects in it. But I also wouldn't pretend to be devout for someone else, and I wouldn't expect someone I married to give up a belief in god. Hopefully things work out where you can both believe in what you want to believe.

That's rough, Yoreel. Sorry you're going through that. Did she know you were agnostic and thought it was just a phase or something, only to lose her sh*t when she found out you didn't believe at all?


Over the past few years I have slowly moved from agnostic to atheist. Although I think part of my hesitation in going all out was this exact confrontation. I have always been a big critic of religion and we had numerous difference of opinions on certain ideas but nothing this drastic. I think it was the added emotional impact of how I would interact with our kids combined with the acknowledgment of atheism. Me saying when you die that is it (paraphrasing) and that there is no God. In my opinion kinda pushed things to the next level. I guess time will tell how she will. Continue to react. All I can do is be patient and reinforce that I love her and the girls and that I'm not any different.

Yoreel wrote:

My wife randomly brought up the afterlife the other night

Randomly? Like, by a dice roll or from a deck of cards with conversation topics?

It was lurking in her brain already; why?

Yoreel wrote:

and how I would explain it to my daughters.

You, as the father, have the exclusive duty of religious education?

Yoreel wrote:

1.5 and 6 months old.

Their age suggests to me you have a bit of time; generally, metaphysical issues can wait until the matter of not sh*tting oneself is sorted.

6 months is certainly within the possible duration of postpartum depression.

Yoreel wrote:

she feels I will take God away from our girls.

And the father of a family has the power to remove God?

Perhaps, by way of counseling, the two of you could speak with a mental health professional?*

*i.e. not a f*cking pastor.

My wife's parents are missionaries. As a result my wife is kinda meh on religion. In fact many "preacher's kids" end up this way because being told what to believe by your parents can cause kids to rebel. All of that is to say that you can raise the kids with Christian "values", send then to Sunday school and they can still turn out how they want to turn out. I can't imagine a parent trying to control this leading to anything good. Not that helps you, Yoreel, but maybe you mention that you plan on raising them with the values she believes in, but ultimately your level of control is low. As it should be. They grow up to be individuals.

Wife is out for coffee with friends, no doubt working through some of this. I'm hoping that she is ready to talk more when she gets back as I have been thinking about this all day ( slow day at work did not help)

HP, The afterlife stuff wasn't dice roll random, she had been reading about a local girl who passed away recently from cancer and was only 10, so the possibility of something tragic happening was somewhat in her subconscious. I'm hoping that we don't have to hit up counseling and I agree, the girls are still super young, and I solely cannot remove God from their lives. I'm hoping that the previous discussion was more of a knee jerk reaction to having her world shook up.

DS, thank you for the point of view. After thinking today, me having a low level of control in regards to their spirituality is something that I'm willing to discuss with my wife especially at a young age. I know my wife will not be filling their heads with extreme doctrine, as she is not extreme in any way. It will be God loves you, and always watches out for you kinda stuff, which I'm ok with, but personally cannot get behind. All I want is to be able to be a voice of reason that can expose my children to many types of religions and points of views to arm them as well as I can to make their own decisions when the time is right.

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

And the father of a family has the power to remove God?

God is dead, and Yoreel killed him.

Just finished talking. I think we made good progress. Lots of tears and hurt feelings but there is no worry about her leaving. Just going to need to work through my beliefs and hers and make it all work with the family. Thanks again everyone.

Yoreel wrote:

Just finished talking. I think we made good progress. Lots of tears and hurt feelings but there is no worry about her leaving. Just going to need to work through my beliefs and hers and make it all work with the family. Thanks again everyone.

*thumbs up*

Yonder wrote:
H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

And the father of a family has the power to remove God?

God is dead, and Yoreel killed him.

There is no god but Yoreel, and the name of his prophet is Yonder.

Bonus_Eruptus wrote:


You owe me a new keyboard!