I'm an atheist who just joined Think Atheist. I grew up a Christian, and even considered becoming a pastor for a while, but began questioning my faith right around the time I started college. I recently "came out" to my Christian wife, but am not out yet to anyone else in real life.
After spending most of my life in the northern US, I am now living in the Bible Belt and putting up with hearing God mentioned all the time here in normal conversation, something which still seems very strange to me.
As a compromise to my wife, and also partly because of living in the religious South where everyone is expected to be affiliated with some congregation, we are now both attending a Unitarian Universalist church. Although I don't have any need for church myself, my wife still wants to go, and I have found so far that they are welcoming to both believers and non-believers.
I've been reading and participating in atheist and freethought sites online for several years now, and have a blog where I give commentary on religious and atheist issues in the news. I discovered Think Atheist after seeing it mentioned in a blog recently. I'm looking forward to joining in discussions and meeting people on here!
Welcome! I am glad you have an open minded UU congregation to attend. I've heard positive things about their open-armed acceptance of all types of people and belief/non-belief. I hope it's a congregation that adds to your life. It must be a relief to be 'out' to your wife finally!
Thanks for the welcomes, Dave G and GG. People who have a "G" in their name must be very welcoming! :-)
In the North, the only time I would normally hear "God" in regular conversation was "Oh my God" or cursing God, not referring to actual religion. I'm beginning to understand that it's usually not meant to be offensive or to be forcing religion on anyone; people just honestly assume everyone believes in God.
GG, it's definitely a relief to be out to my wife. I feel so much better since then, and Sundays have become a time to talk about our beliefs (and non-beliefs). My wife has been very accepting and open-minded. We went again to the UU congregation here this Sunday and are pretty sure we're going to keep attending.
This Sunday, like the first one we went to, they started the service by emphasizing that they were open to people with with doubts about their beliefs or who don't believe in God at all. A month ago, I wouldn't have been able to imagine that there was a church that would openly welcome non-believers. There is occasionally God thrown into a hymn here or there, but besides that it's been interesting to be exposed to people who have belief but welcome doubt and discussion instead of thinking they have "the" truth.
I've heard that this does happen on occasion, yes. Most states are at-will states, so they can pretty much fire you for whatever reason they want, including if they don't like your tie. (I believe in some states and towns it's still legal to even fire someone because they're gay.). So I'd rather not test the waters to find out until I have more job security.
It's actually illegal to discriminate on the basis of religion under Fed. civil rights laws. Most states do allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or just about anything else. Religion, like race and gender are Federally protected classes. Nevertheless, I can certainly see not wanting to put yourself in that position. We all know what value Evangelicals put on "man's law."
Sure it's illegal, which is why they'd just say that they were firing someone because they wouldn't work an extra 20 minues a day or because they eat too much popcorn at their desk, rather than the real reason.
Proving religious discrimination, unless it is fairly blatant, is tough.
Yes, that's the problem. If employers are willing to openly fire someone over being gay (a group that according to some polls is more accepted by the general population than atheists are), I doubt they'd have qualms over inventing a reason to fire an atheist. If employers had to have a good cause to fire someone, I think it'd be less likely that an atheist would be fired just because of being an atheist, or that gays would be fired just for being gay. Atheists are maybe a little more protected, if I understand correctly, but not by much.