In my everyday life, I wear my atheism on my sleeve. I don't throw it in anyone's face, but I will react if the topic of religion comes up and my input is appropriate. I am open to friends and family about it, so nobody has any illusions about where I stand.

Lately, I've been increasingly vocal on Facebook about news that I feel warrants an atheist response. Most of those posts are largely ignored. I was raised Roman Catholic, and went to Catholic schools from 3rd grade all the way through college, so a majority of my friends on Facebook are Catholics. As such, my wall is often littered with bible quotes, links to religious articles, and all the pro-life/anti-abortion propaganda you can imagine. I am in a serious relationship with my girlfriend and we have spoken of marriage; she and her family are all Christians of various degrees. I generally don't shy away from letting my opinion of how ridiculous religious beliefs are, and probably lean towards what is currently (and errantly, imho) referred to as "militant" atheism.

I feel very strongly about raising objections when people make religious posts (if you can imagine what my wall was like after the quake in Japan, and all the "let's pray" responses, you can feel my pain) and I feel that in as much as people are free to give their faith lip-service, I should be able to offer opinions from the other side of the fence.

I'm at a point now where I feel like my outspoken criticism of religion is beginning to alienate people who I value as friends, and is in danger of causing a rift between me and my girlfriend (many of her friends and family are also friends on Facebook). While I have no qualms about losing friends who are of the "if you don't believe what I believe, we can't be friends" variety, I feel it goes deeper than that. I feel like my friends are feeling a more personal sting when I criticize their beliefs, which is often an unavoidable side-effect of being critical of religion.

As passionate as I am about remaining vocal and offering some balance to all the religiosity, and standing up for what I believe in, it is not worth losing those I hold dear to me. I hope to one day marry my girlfriend, and while she can accept the way I feel, I think she struggles with how outspoken I am about it. I intend to back off considerably, only responding when absolutely necessary. I feel a little weak and cowardly for letting others dictate my behaviour, but I have to be selfish and ignore it for the sake of keeping those close to me from getting fed up and walking away.

I guess my question is this: If you're "open" on Facebook with your atheism, how hard do you push it? Are you vocal, or more reserved? Do you think posting atheist articles and news stories about religious wrongdoings is going too far?

I've made up my mind, but I guess I'm looking to get some sense of how you guys feel.

Tags: Atheism, Facebook

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I don't push it, but since I as well grew up Christian, i have alot of Christian friends. Sometimes they post things like, 'The saddest moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful, but has no one to thank."

I have to answer, and that never goes well.  I have lost alot of friends over it, but i guess they weren't really friends.  As a newly 'outed' atheist, i have felt actual more persecution than i ever have in my life.  I feel as though my life as a Christian was much more readily accepted, the norm.

I recently called someone a "hateful cunt" on FB over a "discussion" about hell.  Read into that what you will.
I does help me to read all your post. I am quite new at my de-conversion and trying not to rattle too many saber foits. I will eventually make it more public as I go. For now only a few people in my private life know. Meanwhile I fly under radar not directly attack religious comment in reply but will sometimes slip in some logic and reason. Little by little I have added fellow atheist to my FB friendlist. I just don't quite have the knowledge or courage yet to make a declaration in fear of the reprecusions. In time I will get stronger more able to discuss and debate without getting ripped to shreds. Some of the people on my friendlist I've known for quite some time, so I want to be as tactful as possible to reduce the fallout.

This is something that I have had to deal with over the past year.  With the birth of my first child, the nature of what I publish on Facebook has changed dramatically.  I used to post a lot more political and anti-religious items.  Now, I publish baby photos and largely stay away from the more controversial stuff.

 

Am I weak or cowardly for letting others dictate my behavior?  Absolutely not.  Firstly, they are not dictating my behavior.  I realize that I do not live in a vacuum and the changes I have made in how I approach certain subject matter on Facebook were a matter of looking at the big picture.  In the end, most people don;t care what my opinion is on some news item that they are probably unaware of.  Their eyes will glaze over my indignant posts that appear on their wall.  The real star and attraction is pictures and video of my daughter, not my opinions.  I'm okay with that.


Secondly, the person that protests about everything tends to become a voice that is muted by others.  It is a bit like the saying "how can I miss you if you never go away?".  If you are constantly offering your opinion on things, people will stop caring what your opinion is.  There is an attractive element to mystery.  Be selective and sparing.

 

And the last point I'll make, although likely not the last point to be made, is that Facebook is not the ideal arena to share opinions on the impolite subjects of religion or politics.  Sure, it is easy to do, but is it wise?  You are in essence taking a conversation that is typically handled with care even in a one on one discussion and turning it into a generic and blatant advertisement of your opinions.  You will invariably run rough shod over other people's sensitivities.  If you have a "devil may care" attitude about it, then losing friends and alienating family might be an acceptable outcome for a subject you feel passionately for.  However, if you are like me and being in agreement on matters of politics and religion is not mandatory to be a friend or a loved one, then these are topics that should be handled more delicately than the broadcasting of indignant Facebook posts allow.


All this is to not suggest that I never post anything political or anti-religious anymore.  Or that we should always walk on eggshells around others.  Or hide our atheism.  No, none of that!  In the end, do what is right for you.  And if what is right for you is compromising by holding your tongue more for the sake of peace, then there is nothing cowardly or weak about it.  We all must navigate our own paths in our own social networks, both digital and in real life.  You should never hide who you are or what you believe, but not advertising it constantly is NOT the same thing as hiding it.

 

I'd like to think that when I do post the occasional link to a story along with my opinion, it is much more likely to be read when it appears sparingly as opposed to a continuous feed day after day that simply becomes background noise on the news feeds of others to be ignored.

I have some Christian friends on facebook.  Occasionally they post a bible verse as their status, and occasionally I post a video that mocks Christianity, like a cartoon that shows just how ridiculous the flood story would be if taken literally.  For the most part that is as far as it goes.  In person I never bring up the topic of religion because it isn't part of my life, but I don't hide my surprise when I encounter someone who takes religion seriously.

 

Anyway, for most 'friendships' it doesn't matter.  In the case of my family, who are mostly fundies, we just don't speak - for more than a decade now.  I just don't think that a person who subordinates reason can offer much in terms of friendship or even companionship, so I'm really not close to anyone like that in my life.

"I just don't think that a person who subordinates reason can offer much in terms of friendship or even companionship, so I'm really not close to anyone like that in my life."

I guess depending on how exactly you meant that, I may have to disagree. I have never known any human being to be completely rational about every single thing in their life. If you refer to people who are more irrational than rational in sum, then I could agree with that. However, that does not describe all theists.

I would hardly consider someone like Ken Miller as being unworthy of being a friend or companion simply because he is irrational about one particular subject. And I have many intelligent and interesting friends that I have much in common with besides this difference regarding god belief. I guess by growing up in that culture, I can understand the reasons behind god belief. It is not the same as if they believed invisible pink elephants floating in the sky caused rain when they became sad and cried. Despite that claim being just as ridiculous as god claims, the cultural context and infrastructure is not there to support such the elephant belief in a normal mind. I'd worry about the mental health of such a person. That religion can disguise such demented minds and make it indistinguishable from other, normal minds is probably another discussion for another day.

Although Ken Miller self describes as a Roman Catholic, it's readily apparent that he is more of a deist than a theist.  I find it a bit disturbing that he politically aligns himself with organized child molesters, and if we were to ever be seated side by side for the duration of a flight, that issue alone would be contentious enough for me to find it difficult to have a friendly conversation.

 

Now some might suggest it is unfair to reduce all that is the Holy Roman Catholic Church to a description so terse and vulgar as 'organized child molesters' but I assure you that is the most charitable description I can find in my heart to offer.  But let me get back on topic.

 

Someone like Ken Miller could not be accurately described as subordinating reason in their lives.  In fact, most deists might be accused of nothing more than suspending reason from time to time when in emotional need.  I myself have plenty of beliefs that have no basis in reason, but I would never try to support them against reason and I certainly don't invest heavily in them.

 

Daydreaming can be fun.  Holding to an unfalsifiable belief might bring comfort.  Shoring up one's mind to defend a convoluted mythology as literal, however, requires the absolute subordination of reason.

I like you.

 

I agree that I can't completely respect someone that supports a child abusing organization like the Catholic church or defends the Bible as literal truth.  However, saying that they can't still offer anything in terms of friendship or companionship is a bit harsh.  Maybe I have lower standards by necessity because I live in Missouri?  Perhaps if the population pool were filled more with rational secularists, I could afford to be picky.

My problem with theists is that if they happen to be friendly with an atheist it isn't a personal choice, it's a tolerance allowed by their current cult. Of course they have no sound reason for being in their current cult and may change for a reason as trivial as the selection of bingo night. If the new cult does not tolerate fraternization with atheists then you are out without discussion. This is a rather extreme example, but I've used it to illustrate that a relationship with a person who subordinates reason can be terminated without reason. Living in a strongly theistic area you haven't witnessed this?

Living in a strongly theistic area you haven't witnessed this?

 

Nope.  It may be that I live in a major metropolitan area (St. Louis).  But, most theists here do not discriminate like that.  Oh, they may pooh pooh the idea of atheists, but every theist I know personally is kind and friendly to me.  I guess I am a likable fellow.  Most know that I am an atheist.  But, since they know me and interact with me, they know I am not just an atheist.  And that is why I think it is important for atheists to interact with religious people.  When they see us as fellow human beings, or as Reggie, or Heather, they will reject the personification of the evil atheist coming from the pulpit.  And it is not too much of a sacrifice as I find most of the people in my life that make my life enjoyable are some degree of theist.  I just try not to be judgmental about them as a person and hope they will try to do the same for me when they find out I don't worship gods.

Yes, large cities do force a certain amount of tolerance upon people. It has also been my experience that in large cites, most self described theists are actually deists. There may not be a clear line between the two, but I find that as soon as a theist begins compromising on doctrines that they can no longer rationalize, deism soon follows, whether or not they are even aware of the difference.
Yes, I agree. I know that some others living in small towns seem to suffer discrimination that I have never experienced. But, I also work in the agricultural sector, so I am really rubbing elbows with middle America's salt of the Earth types. I have heard, even at business dinners, people tell me that they hope the Lord comes back soon and takes us all away. It takes some effort to not laugh. But even the gentleman who said that I find to be quite likable.

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