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?"
I am a private piano instructor , and I would NEVER consider driving to a students home with an Atheist bumper sticker on my car. That is the easiest way to lose business. I have an adult student of mine that has talked about Praise music and Hymns and stuff and I act like It's the most wonderful music in the world. She also knows I am the pianist for a Lutheran Church close by ... they know I'm an atheist , but I think the only reason they keep me there is to 'save me' LOL
You need to suck it up and put the outward Atheism display behind you in my honest opinion. Unless you would rather not improve your connections and business. I prefer to make money and flaunt my Atheism elsewhere where I KNOW it won't interfere with my business.
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.
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
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.