Since I've been an atheist, a few months, I've only openly shared with a few people my "beliefs". I don't think it's something that you can freely share without fear of something bad happening to you because of your beliefs. Do you or have you heard of any atheist stories gone wrong? What happened when you told a person. Well when I told my little sister over the phone she went crazy saying "That's crazy. How can you do that? That's wrong you grew up and church and have seen things." I responded "Oh really,, what have I seen that has proved to me that a God exist?", no answer.
Let me correct my mistake, I don't think it's something you can freely share without fear of SOMEONE harming you in any way. I have a husband and a son and I would hate for someone to intentinally harm my family or myself just because I don't believe in what they believe in. We agreed we wouldn't talk about it just to anyone or have bumper stickers or even tshirts about being atheist but do I want to? Yes, I actually I do. If you can wear the cross around your neck or a fish bumper sticker why can't I wear the atheist symbol or a shirt? It's not always about what's "fair" but what's smart.
Everyone has run into their own confrontations; its really going to come down to the family and community you are in. Luckily in the US today violence towards atheists is fairly rare; vandalism tends to be common though.
Plenty of people get disowned or shunned by family and friends; but just as many are accepted with a shrug.
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For me personally, some of my family knew I was a natural skeptic from a young age and seemed unsurprised (although I shocked a few). I received comments about praying for me and pleas to read the bible. In a recent re-outing on Facebook, I had friends and family offer up apologetic books to read, and various other arguments. Most of my immediate family and in-laws have gotten over the shock, and its mostly a non-issue (although we do get some interesting discussions going sometimes).
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People here on TA have every spectrum of the experience, and many have shared them on Coming Out Godless.
Getting more comfortable and confident in your non-belief may be what's needed before springing it on your family. Or spring it, and get it over with. Or drop hints in subtle conversation. Or just ignore it all-together. Many approaches available. Good luck, and welcome to Think Atheist!
I feel somewhat uncomfortable because it wasn't well received by my family. However, they are somewhat more accepting now than they used to be. Well, most of them. My friends, however, received the news well.
Eh, I'm out on Facebook, but that's about it. I suppose my family and friends found out that way, but only 2 people have ever said anything about it. Funniest thing though, a 15yo girl who is a former student of my wife's (and me, but I was just a sub teacher at the time) talked to me about it for over an hour on FB. She's a devout Christian, but at 15 years old, I found her to be more mature, intelligent, and tolerant about the subject than people 5 times her age. I was very impressed and told her so :)
In real life, I don't bring up religion nor comment on other people's religious statements. If I can avoid confrontation at my job, I will. If I can just walk around nutty xtian stumbling blocks, great. But if one of those blocks should find itself in my path with no way around, I'm afraid I WILL have to go crashing through it. I'll endure a lot to keep the peace, but I'm hardly a saint! :)
My family knows that I am an atheist. However, my son's dad's family does not know, but the time is coming when they are going to need an explanation as to why my son and I do not participate in most family gatherings. I'm sure their reaction is going to be a strong one. However, I do not feel that it is safe for my immediate family to let anyone in the community know that we are atheist. I live in a very Christian part of the country and I would expect some kind of retaliation if my neighbors etc knew we are non-believers.
Some of my family knows, and while some are not precisely okay with it, they haven't attacked me or anything over it. Other family members just accepted it with a shrug, and I suspect that some other members suspect but have said nothing (I'm not shy about stating it if asked) and still others do not suspect because they would say something if they thought I was not Christian.
Non-family-wise, I mention it if it is brought up, but don't make a show of it. I've had some people just accept it, others talk with me over it, and others react in the typical 'But how can you be a good person then?' manner.
It varies. I'm fortunate in that my job is not one where this kind of thing comes up.
I am an out atheist at school and haven't had any problems as of yet. Though, I did confront two preachermen pimping Jesus like a whore at the main entrance to the building about three months ago. Long story short, I walked up to them, called bullshit and they walked away from me. Hehe, cowards.
I am out with my parents, my father is an atheist too and my mother a non practicing catholic. My mother likes to send hints about ''god'' once in a while. Nothing major.
My neighbors all know I'm an atheist due to the magnetic bumper stickers I run from time to time. Though, I do feel uncomfortable as I am making my way to town, I am afraid one of the religious wacko's might recognize my truck one day and get stupid. I am careful as to where I go when I have them on my truck.
I am almost out among employee's at work. They know I am a skeptic willing to call bullshit and will bring the evidence to prove it. They just don't know that I don't believe in any of the gods. I'm not sure how they would take it.
I am politely assertive about my atheism. All my family, friends, co-workers know & they all know that I'll reserve little quarter for practicing mythology. I have yet to find anyone attack me, but have people who are extremely devote simply dissolve from my life. Those around me also know that I have a bisexual orientation (was faithfully married for 11 years, but now long divorced & with a monogamous, live-in boyfriend). That fact probably primed me as a kind of independent thinker. Im honest & not shy about sharing but strive to be polite-but-assertive. My interest lies in skeptical, rational, logical, evidence-based thought & ecshewing dogma whenever I can.
Everyone who knows me knows that I am--I have the tattoo and I wear tanks all the time. People say it's pretty and ask what it means and I tell them. Right now I am the editor of my college paper and everyone on campus pretty much knows I'm an atheist, but I don't know what's going to happen when I try to get a job at a local paper, not like there's not much of those going around anyway. Since I've moved to Savannah I get into a lot of arguments with red-faced bumpkins, but I actually got into more in the military. Then again, I got into even more then about my politics. : )
Anyway, I'm not a crazy loud-mouthed rabid atheist, but I definitely don't hide it. And since I've been pushing the calendar, I don't have to so much SAY I am as just say, "Hey, I'm such and such month in the women of think atheist calendar, you should get one." Hee hee. They kind of just take it in stride then, as if they have no choice but to accept it.
I live in Texas and have had varied experiences, because I do sport bumper stickers, skeptical and political. That's why I'm not sure which one pisses people off the most here. Anyway, I have been egged, run off the road, approached in the grocery store, etc. I imagine my adrenaline level is usually off the charts if I'm in my vehicle. Otherwise, friends and family have all been very accepting.
I also must "confess" that we have a huge wall of crosses in our home which we call our wall of death. Even our religious family get a kick out of our "irreverance".
Peace and good luck.
I think there are many Atheist are are afraid of "coming out". I think the more Atheist "come out" the easier it will be for agnostics, and we will notice that more people that we thought are in fact atheist too. So tell everyone!