My gf doesn't believe atheists should come out. Need help

My gf and I had this pretty spirited debate over dinner two nights ago about my atheism. She seems to be increasingly concerned with me (she's catholic) as our relationship grows. I worry that my atheism will grow between us. Or to say, her problem with my atheism. 

She brings up atheism more than me and gets increasingly angry as we discuss, while I stay level-headed. The subject of this discussion was "Why are Atheists so noisy?"

I tried to compare our out campaigns with gay right, black rights, women's right all of those things, which to me are pretty comparable, but she's black and got kind of offended when I compared our trials and tribulations with that of african american struggles. I changed it up and only compared it to homosexualtiy and women's rights. 

She then countered that we don't need to come out because we can't change anything, there's too few of us. I told her that we are trying to get a wider following, trying to encourage freethinkers to come out. 

She then asked something that kind of hurt, she said "Why do you need to come out? Just live your lives like everyone else and be happy with it. You don't need to be so loud about your atheism and cause problems for yourself." 

I was at a loss for words. I wanted to express that it's not fair to need to hide, it's important to live our lives but she honestly doens't see a point to our cause.

I'm wondering what you guys might have said in my shoes, or why you personally think our cause is a noble one? I still believe it is but I am curious about what we are hoping to accomplish. I wish I was much more active in the atheist movement. all I seem to do is retweet and come on this website. How could I get more involved?

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I agree with Dave at some level that you should be pleasant, viz. his suggestion of a soft approach. As you said, you've been calm and she is the one getting upset. I've been there too with religious people and it's really... telling I suppose.

But regardless of how you come across, remember that on one hand you can be pleasant, and on the other assertive for what you feel is important. Be elegant, but at the same time, don't pander to her projection of what you should be at this level.

Accommodation happens at least on a small scale in any relationship as people work together. But at this level, she's suggesting you betray yourself fundamentally to suit her projection. This is sheer disrespect. If she can't respect you at this level, it doesn't matter. You have to respect yourself. If she goes along, great.

If not. You are you. Find a relationship that works better mutually. I'm telling you, if you let her do this to you simply because you care about what she thinks, you won't see the last of it, and you will be miserable because neither of you will respect you. I hope this makes sense. I don't want to drone even further with stories, so.

avoid a argument, people are hard wired to try to win, even if they don't share the ideals their arguing.

you need to get mean, and show all the misconceptions and problems religion does. 



"Problems for yourself"?  Sounds like its a problem for her or maybe her religious friends.

Frankly I'm sick and tired of treading lightly around the religious folk, although I don't go out of my way to cause problems, I don't hesitate to speak my mind, after all I'm not the one believing in a magic invisible man in the sky, if anyone should stay in the closet it's NOT you. 

This could be a problem for you and your GF depending on how open minded she is.

Does she ever read the messages here? Maybe you can get her mind to expand a bit?

Good luck brother!

   I was once in your predicament.  Right from the beginning, though, I made it clear that if we were to get married we would either have no children or they would be raised to decide for themselves - no church! She, a Buddhist, and I , an atheist got along just fine by not attacking each other's beliefs; and by not having any children.  It did not offend me that she put Buddhist symbols all over the house; and it did not offend her that I did not revere or pray to them.

   My brother and his wife had the same solution.  She, a Catholic, and he, someone who doesn't care to think about religion, have been married for 50 happy years.  She never misses Sunday mass and he never attends.  She doesn't try to convert him, and he shows respect for her beliefs and practices. 

   Your situation isn't necessarily the same as mine, but I would strongly advise that you not marry the girl if the issue will forever sadden or anger either of you. 

    Incidentally, your cause is noble simply because it is TRUTH.


Is she even aware that she wouldn't be catholic if it wasn't because of slavery? I don't think is fair that  she censors you because you're an Atheist. Would she if you were a protestant and wouldn't agree 100% with her dogma?. What about if you said that African Americans shouldn't be so loud about racism because slavery was abolished long time ago and they should shut up about it already and live their lives?

If this is the type of things she says now that she is only your girlfriend I don't want to imagine what would be when she is your wife and you have kids.

By the way I don't think that by being open about being an Atheist you are crucifying anyone or trying to change the world in a violent immoral way. Would she say the same about a muslim woman wearing one of those head scarfs? Or some missionary knocking on doors trying to gain converts?

This is like telling a vegan, pretend to like meat. Telling a homosexual pretend to like the opposite sex. Pretend you are "NORMAL" and people will like you.

That being said I think relationships are about trust, respect and acceptance. Someone who wants to censor you, just because they don't agree, is someone who you can't trust and who doesn't respect you, and ultimately is someone who doesn't accept you.

Being an Atheist is not a flaw. I don't think you will get her or yourself in some deep troubles just for not believing in her god.

We are in the 21st century, is fine that we won't meet someone who agrees with us 100% of times, but at least we can find someone who doesn't agree but is still open to allow us be who we are.

According to the 2010 census 12.6% of Americans are African-American

Also, a recent Pew Forum survey showed that 16.1% of Americans are unaffiliated on the topic of religion. Of those 16.1% the breakdown looked as such:

1.6% Atheist

2.4% Agnostic

6.3% Secular unaffiliated

5.8% Religious unaffiliated

0.8% also answered 'don't know/refused'.

So I think it would be safe the say that 10.3% to 11.1% are at the very least Atheistic in some sense. So 12.6% black vs 16.1% unaffiliated or 10.3% 'Atheistic' isn't really that big of a difference really.

Sadly, it sounds like your relationship may be doomed if she refuses to accept to for who you are. But why come out? And to claim we can't change anything? Ridiculous! By coming out we can hope to increase the general acceptance of Atheists and Atheism. We can fight injustices such as laws (although they are unenforceable) that bar Atheists from public office in some states, we can try and keep politicians from creating laws that discriminate on religious stance, we can promote rational thinking in general that will promote scientific understanding and progress, as well as dispelling irrational and potentially harmful thinking and opinions. There is plenty that can be changed by promoting Atheism and coming out as Atheist.


I agree atheists should not come out.  But since Christians and other god believers won;t go back in, what choice do we have?

i think you should simply tell her that atheists, to "live happily like everyone else" as she said, MUST necessarily come out to defend their rights, otherwise they will always live in compliance with EVERYONE ELSE's happiness. the fact that she is black and catholic (hence a follower of jesus teachings) should make it easy to understand.

Tell your girlfriend that we can't "come out" of anything because we never "went in" in the first place.  Atheism hasn't caused me ANY problems ever, but theism/religion sure as hell has.  Why are THEY so loud about praising god in public, into your ears, on your facebook news threads, they tweet in the name of the son, the father and the holy ghost.....

Why are THEY so loud?!  We endure and have the same rights as they do. There's nothing wrong with coming on here all the time and learning new things.  I'm always learning something new myself.  You can do a lot of things as an atheist.  Protest with the atheist community about the necessity of separation of church and state.  Be a shoulder to lean on for others finding skepticism in theism.  New people have changes of heart every day but don't know what to think...kind of like I didn't at first.  But don't allow your girlfriend to minimalize the importance of who and what you are.  I don't give anyone so much as an inch, lest they dare take a mile.  That even includes my very spiritual wife.

Keath I can't really imagine how difficult this must be for you, coming from the UK where atheists are probably in the majority announcing you don't believe in an invisible sky man isn't unusual or looked down upon. I think the video posted by Nelson has a brilliant section where Greta outlines that people generally tell you to keep quiet about your movement when they start to see it as a viable threat.

I would probably tell you girlfriend that you are an atheist, you don't see any reason to believe in a god (obviously give your own reasoning) but you don't have any agenda against religion, you don't think any less of her because she's religious. I'd tell her that you don't have to talk about religion if she doesn't want but it's not going to change who you are and what you (don't) believe.

The whole out thing (although as I say it doesn't really apply in the UK) I believe is aimed at making people see that atheists aren't bad people, I believe a statement from Richard Carrier fits quite nicely - you love your son, you know he's a good person yet he's an atheist, this brings two different world views together causing cognitive dissonance; this generally leads to alterations in perception (this is by no means a verbatim quote, I'm just outlining the principles).

It might be worthwhile asking your girlfriend if she thinks you're a bad person undoubtedly she will tell you no, then ask her why your beliefs are an issue as you would still hold the same feelings for her with or without her beliefs.

Hope that's of some use! :)


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