Hullo everyone! :)
I was just wondering-how important do you think it is to tell people you're an atheist? I suppose I'm talking about both people you're close with and just people in general. I came out to my parents about a month or two ago, and my mum in particular was surprisingly supportive, but I never actually used the 'A' word. I just went about it by saying, "I'm not a Christian." And afterwards, she mentioned that even saying it that way was a bit harsh, so when I tell other people I know I should maybe rephrase myself.
This sort of took me by surprise, since telling the rest of my friends hasn't really been the biggest priority in my life. I've never really thought, 'I'm an atheist, so every single person I know MUST know of my lack of faith!! *Cue demonic laughter*'. The only reason I told my parents was because I'm going to university next year, and my dad kept going on about Christian clubs I could join while there. (He actually started networking a bit with some of their leaders, so I felt a bit bad breaking the news to him.) All-in-all, I just hadn't really planned on going public with my atheism, but ever since I voiced my lack of faith to my parents, I have felt a little more awkward about hiding my atheism, and have been wondering about breaking the news to some of my friends. (Who, of course, are all devout Christians)
I've only really got two friends in mind:
-One is a girl I've grown up with pretty much my entire life. Her family are MEGA christians with a capital 'M', and while we never exactly had a lot of religious conversations when we were little, and while she MUST have noticed I haven't been coming to church or youth group a lot lately, she's been having a bit of a religious calling recently. I'm happy for her-I wish I was as certain about what I want to do with my life-but every now and then she says something like, "I really feel God's spirit, and I feel like he really wants to move the world through me," and then there'll be this awkward moment where I go, "Right", and start eyeing the fire escape. (Okay, the fire escape is a joke...but I think you get the point. It's kind of awkward.) I'm also VERY pro-gay, and there was another awkward moment when I mentioned homosexuality while we were hanging out at youth group, and she just gave me this really long, disbelieving look and said, "We're in a church." So yeah...I think it's kind of obvious where she stands.
-The other, who I haven't known for quite as long, is REALLY close to god; only not on a rule-following, religious level like the first girl, but on a more personal, spiritual level. She's actually planning on being a pastor, and loves being a christian. She's probably the sweetest, happiest, most friendly person I've ever met, and has always struck me as being open minded. (In comparison to friend #1, she's also pro-gay.) The only thing is she doesn't go to the same church as me, so probably doesn't have any doubts about my 'faith'. (Since she doesn't know I haven't been attending church that much since I came out to my parents.) We're in philosophy class together, and we have these fun little debates about the meaning of life, etc. Sometimes she'll ask me a philosophical question that has a bit of religion in it, genuinely interested in what I have to say, and I'll try and give her to most honest answer I can without totally letting it out that I'm not religious. She's always looking out for other people, and I have the feeling that if she were to find out about my atheism, she'd be completely heart-broken.
Honestly, my social skills aren't really up to par. I have a bit of trouble making new friends, so I'd really like to hold on to these two. So basically; in your opinion, should I be telling them, or anyone else from church, etc. that I'm an atheist, and also, should I consider telling my parents that I'm not just non-religious?
Also, just as a side note, I'd like to say that I'm kind of new to the site, and it's by far the most supportive, friendly resource I've come across. It's just so nice to find a community like this where everyone's so open-minded! :D
Thanks everyone! (And sorry about the rant-it's just nice to be able to properly talk about all this.)
I became atheist long ago without really ackowledging it.
For the reasons you state is why I think I have become a bit of an activist though.
I don't like religion and politics mixing, I don't like that 1 voice can be heard, but a dissenting voice is viewed as an attack. I am lucky to not really be faced with many faithful buddies (2 that I know of).
Buuuut in Canada, we seem to becoming more politically "devoted" and we cannot let it get carried away.
Offline, I'm as private about my lack of religion as I wish a lot of religious people would be about their lack of atheism.
When someone says, "god bless you" when I sneeze, I respond, "The "soul" does not begin to leave the body during a sneeze and doesn't need to be called back."
When a homeless person says, "god bless you," after I've given him a dollar, I respond, "If there were a 'god,' you wouldn't be out here in the cold begging for money, would you?"
I try to make similar responses to other references to religion in daily life.