Here we are again, in Ramadan in my country. For those who do not know much about Islam, Ramadan is a month in the year when Muslims must fast from the dawn period to the sun setting period. As a secret atheist, I have to do such thing in order to keep my real thoughts a secret. So my question here, did any of you were forced to be involved in any religious practices in order to hide your atheist identity?
Yup....every holiday for example....plus any clues inbetween, etc.
When I spent months in Iran I had to pretend I was a Christian. The first time I took a train ride with some friendly folks in my cabin...they asked if I was catholic. I said I was an atheist. This disturbed them greatly. They didn't get hostile or angry or go away, they were quiet and reflective and saddened for me. They asked me more and more questions and each answer was like a drunkfriend in a bar justifying raping kittens as though it was logical and totally okay. It was the first time in their lives they had doubt personified...sat in front of them. While I don't regret that seed of doubt, I regret how a pleasant cultural exchange and vacation turned so dark and sad. They weren't interrogating me or pushing an agenda. They were just curious. From then on I either said I'm protestant or if they were younger people that it was difficult to express my views nad answer their questions with questions. I hated it, loathed it, but I was the foreign guest and I had no intention of pushing an agenda when they themselves were not.
Of course this is peanuts compared to the horror that you face, everyday, as an insider, where claiming atheism is deadly.
I once spend a vacation in Tunisia during Ramadan which was in late December that year. I spent Christmas Day visiting the Mosque of Kairouan. As it was Ramadan it was very quiet with little happening so I got to teaching a local some of the Irish (Gaelic) Language in exchange for him teaching me some Arabic. One morning he asked me what religion I was. I started to say I was an atheist but changed it to “I am of the Christian heritage”. He answered me by eating a bar of chocolate with a childish grin on his face. I smiled back and that ended the conversation. In 2015, 38 people were murdered by a gunman in that resort. The gunman was a student from the University near the Mosque. I guess he never liked chocolate.
Giving up food is a sacrifice...and, well, religions are big on throwing virgins into volcanoes, burning lambs or more virgins, giving up this or that as a sacrifice to their gods, etc.
If one truly believes that the god exists, AND would want this, then, it is somewhat understandable.
The seed is planted when they start to question IF the god WOULD want something like that, etc....
...so, they can still believe in the god, but have decided that they know the god better than other people do, as surely the god must be reasonable, etc.