I am struggling to keep a small business afloat during these tough economic times. As a woodworking artisan making product here on my property in the Ozarks of north Arkansas I am constantly in contact with religious people, aka Christians. Some of the shops I market my work through are owned by devout people. Occasionally I am asked what church I attend blah blah. Having very long hair and a beard some have mistaken me for the brother of Jesus.  Hah Hah. I have decided to not hide my atheistic stance for some time.

But adopting this open policy has caused me to lose some customers. People around here are very intolerant of anyone who doesn't attend a local church. They almost seem to be even more severe against atheists. I have a pro atheist bumper sticker on one of my vehicles and this has caused some incidents with the locals. I fear that as the word spreads I could be facing a boycott of sorts. Some religious people simply will not support  or conduct business with those who don't "worship the Lord." So in a sense I feel like I am shooting myself financially in the foot to remain open and vocal about viewpoints on religion.

It's a sucky situation because I want to be vocal about the millions of thinking, rational, moral atheists who live in this country but on the other hand I don't want to alienate those who would help me keep the lights on.

As a business owner who happens to be atheistic would you remain silent or "go for broke?"

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I assume you do not want to relocate?  Well, it sounds like you're caught up in the zeal of saving the world and forgetting to take care of yourself--not an unusual phenomenon for caring, passionate people.  BUT, you have to pay the rent and put food on the table if you want to represent the millions of thinking, rational, moral atheists who live in this country.  No one listens to homeless people. 


You have a cause you feel you owe allegiance to, I understand and I feel the same way.  You have to support yourself by accepting that you must accommodate your customer's culture and religion.  You can help build secular society in other ways--donations, volunteering, etc.  You might not be on the front lines, representing the moral, decent face of an atheist American, but you'll still be contributing behind the scenes.


Or you can find a new profession where you are bullet proof and be as open about who you are and what you stand for as you want. 


Basically, you're screwed.  It's business, location, or lifestyle--ready?  Pick one!   Oi, I'm sorry, this really, really sucks!  Hey, at least your not a gay immigrant.  You're not a gay immigrant, are you?  Because then I would just give Arkansas the two finger salute.


In my mid-fifties now and money becomes less important to me with each day. I have no grandiose visions of butlers and maids waiting for my cue. As I approach retirement and new money sources I will be more open about my atheism.
What I really want to have happen is to develop my talents as a woodworking artisan to the degree that my atheism will not matter or enter into the equation. They will see my work and forget about religious hangups. Though this goal will only be possible will regular and frequent visits to the optomologist... :^)

P.S. I have thought about inconspicuously incorporating "There is no god!" into my product. There is always a place where no one could see it. Kinda like the software engineers who surreptitiously implant symbols and words onto microchips.... too much wine tonite I guess.... :^ )
I am self employed as well and I have to keep my mouth shut about my Atheism. I do a lot of work for Jewish folk and I also did a fair size project for a Catholic church. I don't have issues with people and have friends of all faiths but only my closest friends are aware of my world view.
I disagree with those who say, "move" or "you're screwed".
It may not be all that easy for you or something you're used to doing, but people who would punish you for not believing in their fairy tales do not deserve your respect. If someone were holding a gun to your head and told you that, if you didn't say, "Praise Jesus" he'd pull the trigger, what would you do?(as if I even have to ask). That's an extreme example, but beyond that it's a sliding scale. At what point is your honestly toward bigots (concerning something that is none of their business) more important than their assault on you?
I'm not saying to go out of your way to be a hypocrite. Just, if your business depends upon it, tell them what they want to hear. You do not OWE them an accurate accounting of your personal beliefs.

Your statement "At what point is your honestly toward bigots (concerning something that is none of their business) more important than their assault on you?" is an interesting one. I will take the low profile road for now. But if I become engaged with someone intent on illustrating the wicked ways of "damned to hell" atheists I may have to rear my lowered head! As an extroverted Arian it is sometimes very difficult to keep my tongue in check.
Having had another day to think about this, and to read over some new replies....

One: Religious [or areligious] bumperstickers—for or against anything—are generally a bad idea. It's not the atheists I don't trust, on average; but the theists are varied enough, and emotionally motivated enough, that anything advertising atheism or paratheism can set them off. Even if it's a baptist taking issue with a catholic sticker. They're only one big happy family when they're ganging up against jews or muslims or atheists or whatever. By the same token, I'd be careful about having stickers advertising lunatic fringe politics: PETA democrats and KKK republicans.

Two: That you [we, in fact] shouldn't have to hide a lack of theism is perfectly true; it's a social injustice and all that. Also, a bicycle has every right to be ridden in the street. Neither fact means all that much while you're recovering in traction. If moving's not an option, and standing up for your rights against an unbeatable foe is dangerous, the lesser evil is to keep your head down. At the risk of comparing apples to oranges, those jews who survived during the second world war did it by escaping, hiding, or even lying about what they were, not by marching into Berlin and trying to reason with anyone. Sometimes, you have to hold out for a battle you can actually win; on the bright side, that's a possibility here on the 'net.

At the risk of comparing apples to oranges, those jews who survived during the second world war did it by escaping, hiding, or even lying about what they were, not by marching into Berlin and trying to reason with anyone.

....or how about "grapes to watermelons."


I agree with your advice though!  There is no shame in survival.

I have a small business in the DC suburbs. I am a pot smoking gay atheist.  I do not however wear armbands, and I am not obvious about my various status. I feel as many xians jews and muslims do that money is money, and I do what I do to make a living. When dealing with people who are hostile to my personal world view, I simply charge more. I add a surcharge for church items, and if people identify as anti gay, they also pay more.  Otherwise business is business.

There are a lot of bumper stickers I would display if I thought I could do it without retaliation.



Arrest the pope

save the planet, spay or neuter your spouse

abortion on command

if there were no soldiers there would be no wars

god schmod

tax the church


Sadly, there are nut jobs everywhere. There are neighborhoods around here where Hummers are vandalized by Prius owners. .  So just live your life, do your thing, and avoid conversations about politics, religion and that other thing I always forget.





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