I've been "out" with this friend for a while (like, several years). I know he is a believer, but it's usually the deistic sense. He's not a dogmatist, and we tend to just agree to disagree.
However, I sent him a link to the atheistclimber blog that Martin Pribble posted. There's an ongoing debate with a creationist there that's actually kinda fun and engaging.
Anyway, here's the conversation that ensued with my friend:
Him: but stop posting links to atheist websites for me to click! not that I'm worried about corporate policy or anything, but if they are tracking our internet activity, I don't want that to be representative of me
Me: *sigh* compared to any of the other websites you frequent?
Him: such as?
Me: I dunno... do you usually worry about your Amazon purchase history making a statement about you?
Him: not usually, but that IS an accurate statement about me.
Me: and what would reading a single blog page say about you? The guy we're debating w/ isn't an atheist.
Him: it's not likely that whoever is reviewing browsing history is actually going to go read the post. they see thinkatheist.com and atheistclimber.wordpress.com and make assumptions based on that
Me: Well, I'll stop posting links that'll make people think you're an evil atheist.
Him: and it's not one. you usually send me at least a couple a week
Him: and you're being unfair. I never said anything about evil. just that it doesn't represent my beliefs and values
Me: I just think you're being unreasonably paranoid that someone is going to judge you for a few websites you've looked at.
Me: and that your fear of being labeled as an atheist kinda makes me feel like you judge my beliefs on the matter.
He still hasn't responded to that, but it kinda floors me. He has a biology degree, and we can usually have great discussions about the science behind these kinds of things. For him to be so paranoid that someone is watching his browsing history, and because of that will think that he's an atheist... It isn't about getting busted about non work related surfing. It's that he doesn't want to be thought of, even by some anonymous history sniffer, as an atheist. Sure, it's not his beliefs, but for fucks sake.... And it isn't like he works for a church, or something where beliefs would have any impact on his employment. He works for a government contractor, ffs!
I don't think he has any idea how offensive that was to say. I really hate to think that this'd be a deal breaker for the friendship, but if he really thinks that atheism is something people should be ashamed of, I don't know that I can continue it. Seriously... how little respect can he have for me to say something like that?
Edited to Add - his rebuttal:
Him: no - would you want people to assume you're a Christian just because your parents are?
Me: It's a very common occurance. Nevermind that my parents are, "theist" is the default assumption. Even if it isn't something I believe, that doesn't stop me from visiting pro-creationism or pro-God websites.
Me: I still read lots of sites that espouse beliefs that I'm very much against. If someone thinks that I'm anti-vaccination, and I think that dinosaurs walked the earth with man because of my browsing history, I really don't care. If they talk to me about it, they'll know that's not my belief.