Confessions of a Closet Atheist (continued)

Wow, it's been months since I realized I really didn't believe in God any more.  And nothing's really changed.  I still don't believe, but I still do a pretty good job pretending I do, for the sake of job and family. I've gotten the occasional comment from folks here at TA that I'm doing a pretty horrible thing, living a lie, etc.  I appreciate your interest in my situation, but sorry...maybe you have the perfect little atheist life, where all your friends are atheists, your job is great, and you can be 100% true to yourself. Congratulations!  But I'm willing to bet there are people out there who, atheist or not, are not 100% happy with, say, their job.  They go to work and pretend to be gung-ho for the company, because it keeps the boss of their back.  Inside they're thinking, "Jeez, I wish I was doing something else..."  The fact of the matter at the moment is this: my church job brings in just over $500 per month.  That may not seem like a whole lot to some people, but it happens to be a goodly chunk of our family income.  So it may seem like a good idea to say, "Hey, I don't believe in God, so the church can go to hell...except there's not really a hell..."  Anyways, in my real life, that would mean tightening our belts a pretty considerable amount.  

The church I where I work is an aging congregation, and it may end up closing its doors in the not-too-distant future.  If that happens, I probably will say, "Screw church music...this shit sucks."  I'll deal with that when it happens.  Meanwhile, my pretending to be Christian for the sake of a part-time job is a sacrifice I'm willing to make.  It's no different to me than pretending to be a team player at my part-time retail job, which also sucks.  Money is money, though.

I'm sorry if this comes off a little bitter, but it's difficult to read comments from people who say, "Just find a different job," or "Your wife's a Christian...oh, she'll probably divorce you because of your atheism."  Thing is, I love my wife, I love my kids.  If I have to do a little playacting from time to time about a god who doesn't exist...so be it.  No biggie.  I've done worse.  Still, there's no denying that, sometimes, it kind of sucks being a closet atheist.  Would I rather just come clean with everyone? Absolutely.  Will it happen in the near future? I honestly don't know.  Only time will tell.

Views: 209

Comment by Dr. Bob on February 7, 2014 at 3:39pm

I'm not quite sure what the modern fascination is with airing all one's personal thoughts to the entire world.   Perhaps it has to do with "reality" television and TMI postings to Facebook or something.  Attention seeking?  Ego? 

Personally, I think it shows more character to keep personal thoughts private.  I'm more concerned that the organist at our church is a good organist (as anyone can tell you, nine out of ten church organists could turn Ode to Joy into a funeral dirge).  I don't have any particular need for the organist to suddenly start sharing her personal crisis of faith with everyone.  If I'm a close friend and merit that confidence, sure, but not otherwise.

So count me as a supporter, @A.T.   We work for a living, and our work does not need us to "share".

That having been said, a marriage is a different thing than a job.  We make a commitment to share our lives with our spouses, worries, doubts, struggles and all, and for a much longer term. If you get in much of a habit of hiding things from your wife you will no longer have a marriage.  Then it will only be a matter of time before the legal status catches up with the reality.  

As an old fellow who is just a keytapper at the end of a long wire, I would not presume to give advice.  I don't know you or your family at all, and you must use your best judgment.

Comment by Renee on February 7, 2014 at 4:03pm

It sounds like you made the best decision for your situation.  You have no obligation to "the atheist movement", no reason to come out of the closet if all it will do is hurt your family, friends and community.  The only harm it might do is to you, if you feel uncomfortable "playacting." I'm glad you are weighing the consequences of coming out; that's much more rational than loudly broadcasting your thoughts to the world. 

Comment by Physeter on February 7, 2014 at 4:35pm

When you're an atheist, no one can accuse you of "thought-crime". If you are a Christian, they tell you it's vitally important for you to think the right things and admit you believe the right things. You can't lie and tell the executioner you're not a Christian, in their view.

Atheists don't have that. There's nobody policing what we think. If you feel you must live the lie and go along with your former faith, then hey--you do what you need to do.

I personally am not out to anyone, so I'd be the last one to criticize.

Yes, I can see why atheists might advise you to find a different job. I can appreciate what people say--how every time an atheist comes out, it makes us more normal and preps the world a little more for the time when they will accept us.

But I don't think anybody on the internet has the right to tell you, to put the "cause" of atheism before your own well-being. On the contrary, this should be your safe place. If you feel like you can't say what you're really thinking to your real-life family and friends, this should be the place where you can come to speak out, in my opinion. This should be the place where we commiserate with you, where we understand you bcs we've gone through it, where we offer you encouragement. Not a place where we tear you down.

As far as my own experience goes: I recently attended a Unitarian church once, and I can't wait to go back. For the past few years I've been attending only traditional, fairly conservative Christian churches just to keep up appearances. Going to the accepting, peace-loving, social-justice-concerned Unitarian congregation was like stepping into a warm room after too long in the snow. If I believed in souls, I'd say it fed my soul that has been starving ever since I left college. This experience makes me want to come out to my family, so I can attend the Unitarian church and do other things I really believe in. But I haven't done it yet, and I'm not sure if I really will.

Comment by David Smith on February 7, 2014 at 9:57pm

That's a hard situation, and I think your managing it better than I would.  Please don't feel your being dis honest by protecting yourself until you know where you are and where you want to be, some life changes are more delicate than others.

I do hope in time you can be open with your family, and I'm sure if done right they will understand.  And I am very sorry that you had such bad reactions from others about 'what you should do'.  You answer to you, you are the expert on your life experience and you are the captain of your ship, be true to yourself and things will turn out well in the end.

My support is yours, but I'm afraid I can only empathize as my life experiences have been very different in regards to this.  Still, feel free to send me a mail any time if I can help in any way or if you want to bend my ear.

Comment by Giakorina Mejia on February 8, 2014 at 1:31am

I completely understand not wanting to come out to your family. I slowly came out to mine and truthfully, its kinda been a nightmare. Anything bad that happens in my life is blamed on the fact that I don't believe in god. And now my husband and I are having our first child and its being questioned if we would be good parents because we are atheists. Just a lot of nonsense no one should have to deal with. So I can understand not wanting to deal with the drama.

Comment by A. T. Heist on February 8, 2014 at 12:28pm

Thank you all for your kind, supportive comments...it means a great deal to me.

Comment by SandBeach on February 8, 2014 at 3:59pm

I also appreciate this form of support & I, too, empathize with A.T. Heist - because of the following:  I live in the "reddist", most conservative, most religious state in the U.S. - UTAH!  I happen to be --(1) an Atheist, (2) a Democrat, & (3) I am a Lesbian.  So I find that I am deep in THREE closets!  I have had a group of very close girlfriends who are true-believing. lifelong, "pioneer" Mormons.  I have loved them, & they have loved me ever since age 15 when I moved to Utah.  They know I am not Mormon, but keep wishing & hoping that someday they can convert me - because "they want to be with me in heaven".  I happen to have no husband, no kids, or grandkids, & no family to speak of.  They are my family & I am terrified of losing their love & support.  We are all the same age (classmates) & way past mid-life now.  One of my best girlfriends even bought me a gravesite (right next to hers) so I could spend time & iternity next to her.  Now that's "love"!  My other best girlfriend is married to one of the 12 apostles of the LDS Church. All my sweet neighbors are also deeply religious LDS, who constantly watch out for me & bring me food alot, because they know I am broke, & barely making ends meet. So how can I possibly reveal that I am not only a Democrat, but I am an Atheist Lesbian!  I feel that I am sure not living an "authentic life" - but it wears on my psche, & causes a fair amount of depression having to live this way. I somehow feel like a coward, who doesn't dare speak up & fight for what she strongly believes in.  Don't tell me to move - cause I can't afford to give up my Reverse-Mortgage house - & I have no place to go, & no support system anywhere else. So I keep on trucking deep in my 3 closets - but appreciate this forum to express myself once in awhile.

 

Comment by Ed on February 8, 2014 at 10:58pm

@ Dr. Bob,

I am not surprised you have a problem understanding/relating to the plight of our original poster. The persecution of those living beyond the walls of theocratic America is not to be understood by those supporting the theocracy.

@ A.T.

Yours is the most ironic of dilemmas. Family comes first; do what you must to keep food on the table. For that you cannot be faulted. Ethical considerations aside you must do what is pragmatic and prudent. 

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