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.

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I used to list a lot of atheist articles on facebook but have given it up for better things, such as writing comments on these blogs. If you go to ex-christian .net you will see a lot of fabulous articles written by other atheists. The story titled,"Earthquakes and the Godless" by TamaBrett was impressive. It ends with "Japan is proof that a country doesn't need religion to have a soul."
Great! Thank you!
I think most of my friends and family on FB ignore me, but my wife has informed me that a number of people have approached her (instead of directly approaching me) and said they felt I was "beating them over the head with atheism." Every time I back off, I feel cowed a bit. Then I get angry when I see others touting their "prayers" and "god's will" crap. I've recently decided I'm just going to continue being vocal about my atheism. If friends and family don't like it, they can talk to me directly, ignore my posts, or block me. I feel an increase in my self-confidence when I go ahead and express myself honestly despite the consequences.
I like the way you took the words right out of my mouth!  Great spew!

I don't hide my atheism but I don't really purposefully push it on facebook either. My religion on Facebook is listed as: None - Atheist. I post articles from time to time but typically they are science articles or political news. If anyone has posted a bible verse or said they will pray for me on my account I don't remember and I probably ignored it or deleted it. I don't feel like every post of a religious nature needs a response. I mostly use my facebook to keep in touch with people and I don't really want my page to turn into debate after debate. I enjoy debating but I also like to keep my debates in a setting where they don't easily get carried away. Facebook debates more often than not turn into flame wars and I'd rather interact and debate in a more mature way.

The atheist community on Facebook is pretty large.  Despite not being very active, I have 1559 "friends", almost all of whom are atheists.  Once you get on various atheist lists, friend invites become unending.

But I must say that many of the posts on my wall from these atheists aren't very nice.  It's kind of a turn-off.  There are many in-your-face atheists out there and it's kind of embarrassing to be associated with them where my non-atheist friends are concerned.  They must think we atheists are a bunch of spiteful, mealy-mouthed egomaniacs.

I don't push atheism very hard . . . because so many others do that for me -- on my wall.
Becky makes an interesting point, "I used to be very outspoken on it but I eventually got tired of arguing." I suggest be outspoken, blunt (not rude for its own sake) and clear and moreover, unapologetic.  Look, at the risk of getting too heady here, scientists and academics will agree on this: people will believe things regardless of evidence or fact; meaning, it's not a debate to be won 'in the head.' But, as I've recently stated to a Baptist Pastor friend, atheism is the default position in the absence of evidence. I've adopted a caring, invested and supportive role for humanity (Libya, Fukushima, etc) and that requires no god, and I make no apologies for it. It's not up to me to prove my position to you. I am far more invested in the people that are here and now.  I state my anti-theistic opinion unapologetically, without reserve, and without apology. I find I am often the only one in the room who is not upset and angry when these discussions erupt.  My two cents.

Exactly. The purpose of your Facebook page is to allow you to post things primarily about you, your life, hopes, dreams, beliefs and non-beliefs. Early on, I would go to theist friends on their pages and challenge their religious posts, but later I thought that in doing so, I was invading their "space" uninvited, so I limited my opinions (unless invited) to my own wall.


BTW: I actually get into more arguments with an agnostic buddy of mine who strongly disagrees with the statement that disbelief is the default position. In his way of thinking, the phrase "I don't know" doesn't imply disbelief. (but that's another topic).   

i only bring it up if it's relevant. my "religion" is listed as atheist/pastafarian, and this week i have my profile picture set as the atheist "a".

I am not "open" or militant on fb in general, although in messages and chat, when the subject comes up on a one-on-one basis, I will tell the individual person with whom I am speaking that I am an atheist.  I am always generous and easy in my admission, stating that I understand the other person is religious, but I am not, and that I hope this issue won't become a wedge in our friendship.  I have found this approach works fairly well, and the individuals whom I have spoken with do seem to tone down their religious rantings a bit in general on fb, just knowing that some of their audience is not part of the choir.  Making them deal with it on an individual basis with someone they genuinely like seems to make them just a little bit more aware of the diversity out there in facebook land.


Now, for the constant ranters sending up prayers for everything from sporting events to natural disasters, I know those people are unreasonable, and even though I might like them for some other reason and would like to keep them as friends, I don't want to listen to their crap, so I just take the easy route and whenever they post a Hail Mary, I hide the post so I don't have to look at it in my feed all day.  It works really great!  I also hide any political posts that annoy me, if I don't feel like counter-arguing, but neither do I feel like looking at the words all day in my feed.  I find that if you leave these posts in your feed, they just eat at the edges of your mental health and annoy you all day.  Make them disappear!

As for supporting the cause, I do as someone else mentioned -- I often post scientific links to try to continually help enlighten my fellow fb citizens. 

Im so outspoken on facebook that I cause 3 and 4 day long arguments, I get threats, I lose friends and family, and I have lost jobs because of it. Even though me being outspoken has caused me so so much hardships I still scream out what I think is right everyday. I actually save a few of my arguments on facebook because its so mind blowing to read how ignorant the people can be. Wish there was some way to let you guys read it, im sure it would provide some entertainment.
Good for you Ryan, for goodness sake! I thought I was a militant atheist but I shall strive harder to get the concept of reality and common sense across to the so called "god" believers. Enjoyed your rant... I shall be joining you!


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