Think Atheist Bracelet Causes Furor, Questions.

Morgan Matthew generously sent me a Learn to Think Atheist bracelet a while back and I have not worn it until recently. I am getting married August 8th and decided I would wear it during the ceremony. As a precursor, I wore it to the rehearsal dinner where my evangelical mother saw it. She kept asking what it was so I let her take a hold of it to read it. Once she comprehended the words she recoiled as if it were a venomous serpent, wiping her hands on her pants. As she got drunk, she spent a good portion of the night complaining about my atheism to my other family members. She assumed that the officiant from the Ethical Society of St. Louis gave it to me and she routinely shows her disdain for this secular group by mislabeling them the Humane Society.

This occasioned a conversation with my fiancée after my parents left which caused my friends to request to see the bracelet. My friend's wife was incredulous and kept asking if I was in fact an atheist. I assured her that I was but I couldn't help laughing about the fuss and she mistook my laughter to mean I was joking with her.

One of the bridesmaids tried to convince my atheistic fiancée that we were not really atheists, but rather agnostics. If I would have heard this, I would have let her know that we were both and that they are far from mutually exclusive labels. I'm not sure why she was trying to inform us of our personal beliefs. In fact, I am not sure why so many were so vocal in their disbelief in our unbelief. Most of my friends are not church going religious types. This indicates to me how steeped in religion our culture is that even people who are seemingly apathetic about religion can turn into religious advocates when provoked by ideas that challenge the norm.

But most importantly what I realized is that people don't know what atheism is. I didn't explain it to them at dinner because I was so surprised at their astonishment. Upon further reflection I knew I should have taken the opportunity to educate my friends. Atheism is not something I want to proselytize (science and critical thinking I do!) and most of my relationships are atheistic in the manner that religion is simply not discussed. I have close friends that I think are atheists but have never cared enough to claim the label and I have close friends that I have no idea of what their beliefs are.

I have not been very vocal in my own life out of concern of family, friends, and work. As my wedding approaches I know that many people will wonder why God was not invited. Some may not notice His absence but others will. I have a feeling that I will be having many conversations about my atheism in the near future and that the people who were not aware will soon become so. I didn't want to be known as "the atheist", but I will not shy away from who I am and what I don't believe.

My whole concept of how I balance my personal life with my atheism is being discarded and I'm venturing out into new territory all thanks to a small bracelet that Morgan Matthew sent me in the mail.

Views: 48

Comment by Gaytor on August 7, 2009 at 5:27pm
Tell your Ma-in-law that your marriage statistically has a better chance of surviving since you are Atheists. But say it with a smile! I find poking the beast with a cattle prod eases their reactions when they are exposed to a light push later on in relationships.
Congrats on the nuptials!
Comment by Chris on August 7, 2009 at 6:44pm
I must agree that people don't understand what atheism is. Most of them are like Julia Sweeney's mother; not believing in God they could almost understand, but Atheist? ATHEIST???
Comment by Morgan Matthew on August 7, 2009 at 8:43pm
:] Glad to be of service. Now featured.
Comment by Reggie on August 7, 2009 at 10:17pm
@Gaytor - Thanks!

@Chris - I love that quote!

@Michel - The Atheists? Sounds like a sitcom! My fiancee's atheism did a very important thing for my fully blossomed agnosticism. It made me realize that "atheist" was not a dirty word.

@Morgan - Thanks for all the grief! :)
Comment by James on August 7, 2009 at 11:31pm
I often find that people really don't know what an Atheist actually is. Good for you for wearing the bracelet. I've been wearing mine for a few weeks now. But no one has questioned it as of yet. Hmm, maybe I'll have to wear mine at my upcoming wedding as well. :)
Comment by Gaytor on August 7, 2009 at 11:42pm
On second look at your title... Should it say Fuhrer?
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on August 8, 2009 at 5:40am
Comment by Reggie on August 8, 2009 at 6:20am
Thank you all for the warm wishes!

Should it say Fuhrer?

My mother probably thinks atheists worship the Fuhrer.

maybe I'll have to wear mine at my upcoming wedding as well

I'm betting people will notice then! When do you get married?
Comment by fixedentropy on August 8, 2009 at 2:01pm

but secondly, i know the feeling, i wear my bracelet daily and people actually treat me like i have the plague.

some just ignore it, most actually, i dont live in an overly religious area in Ontario, but its mostly older individuals who seem to have venom towards MY choice to believe what i want.

it is rather amusing
Comment by Dave G on August 8, 2009 at 2:51pm
First of all, congrats on your upcoming nuptials, Reggie!

Second, clearly I need to get one of the bracelets, I'd like to see what kind of reaction it would evoke.


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