Author Topic: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them  (Read 4140 times)

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Offline Seppuku

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Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« on: January 22, 2011, 06:11:09 AM »
Quote from: L6
I like the DD challenge: find atheists who regret coming out. It's kind of like finding god. Maybe we can look and look and never find them, but always there will be people who claim they exist. I'd be very interested to hear any such accounts.

If we could get in touch with Goodkat, maybe we could ask him. He wasn't in a position to leave home and he found himself living in a violent environment, his parents tried forcing religion on him and as soon as they caught him surfing WWGHA, his dad got rid of his Internet, so he has no atheist community to support him. It's possible that he doesn't regret it, but he could have saved himself a LOT of shit by waiting. The forumtried advising him on his situation after he came out, but of course he soon had to leave. I hope the guy got out of his situation and is happy somewhere as far away as possible from his parents. Of course if he knew his dad's reaction, I would have told him to not come out to save him from abuse, there's no harm in waiting, I wouldn't think of the guy as a coward if he did keep his mouth shut, I think it is part of the responsibility of those who are out to support those atheists who are in a difficult situation, so they too can come out. I don't think it's always not having the balls to do it.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2011, 05:09:51 PM by HAL »
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Re: Re: Who Chased L6 Out And What Are We Prepared To Do To Get Him Back?
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2011, 10:44:48 AM »
Seppuki, that's not a situation of an atheist who came out.  Goodkat's is a situation of an atheist who was found out.

His is one situation where it was prudent for him to be an 'outward theist'.  It's really too bad that there was no out-of-the-closet atheist community in his area to help him.  Oh well, I guess everyone has to look out for themselves...
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Offline Seppuku

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Re: Re: Who Chased L6 Out And What Are We Prepared To Do To Get Him Back?
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2011, 11:59:14 AM »
Seppuki, that's not a situation of an atheist who came out.  Goodkat's is a situation of an atheist who was found out.

His is one situation where it was prudent for him to be an 'outward theist'.  It's really too bad that there was no out-of-the-closet atheist community in his area to help him.  Oh well, I guess everyone has to look out for themselves...

Either way he was out, so my general points still stand. I suspect he wishes his family didn't find out, but obviously I can't speak on his behalf. I think this forum was probably one of the only places he could turn to for support, but thanks to his family, he hasn't even got that. I still don't see reason why people who find themselves in a dilemma choosing to not come out fully are cowards, I can see why a portion of them may be cowards, but not all of them. Some choose not to out of respect, as you can find in examples in this thread (like respect for an ill parent in her late years), and in other cases it can be about well-being, whether that's a person incapable of supporting themselves or somebody who's likely to face abuse. I'd much prefer it if people felt more inclined to help or advise people out of those situations rather than judge them as poor atheists who are too cowardly to come forth and defend their disbelief. Those who don't come out fully because of respect, well, ignorant folk are capable of earning a person's respect even if they're ignorant of what makes you different, you can't say they're not members of atheist community if there's a select few who they refuse to tell they're atheist. So I object to any generalisations on the subject.
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Offline kin hell

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Re: Re: Who Chased L6 Out And What Are We Prepared To Do To Get Him Back?
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2011, 12:10:54 PM »
And Seppu I think there are few here who feel differently. 
What atheist wouldn't want a world in which all atheists were able to be loud and proud?
But to condemn and push for the exile of those who, for whatever reason, are not in such a position as to be able to do so? .....I don't think so.



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Offline Jim

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Re: Re: Who Chased L6 Out And What Are We Prepared To Do To Get Him Back?
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2011, 12:31:01 PM »
And Seppu I think there are few here who feel differently. 
What atheist wouldn't want a world in which all atheists were able to be loud and proud?
But to condemn and push for the exile of those who, for whatever reason, are not in such a position as to be able to do so? .....I don't think so.

I think it's pretty true that all atheists would strive for this.  I think it's true that all here would strive for, and support, anything we could to bring about such a world and bring more reason to it.  It would be good to be able to create an environment where a non-believer wouldn't be scared of living an open, freethinking life.  But, I don't think that any knee jerk methods should be the core of any action.

I do think that all who can freely and openly speak about their atheism, should do so.  There is a point to that.  I am in that position, for instance, and there are others here who are also able to do so.  That kind of openness helps to fertilize the ground for future change.  If you can join an appropriate political action group, do so.  If you are constrained, but can support a group or activity even if you cannot directly join, do so.

If you are severely constrained, concentrate on loosening your constraints so that you can unburden yourself.  That will be different for every situation.  Some people will have to move away from family and friends, or make other painful choices.  Others may remain completely constrained for reasons beyond their capacity to control.  For them, it just means daily damage control.

But, whatever you do, do not listen to fools who would lie and push you into the pool of sharks to further their own goals, and make themselves appear to be the "big" or "righteous man."  They do not have to deal with the consequences that you do, they cannot take the blows you will receive in your stead.  Their bravery is all hot air.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 10:35:54 AM by Jim »
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Re: Re: Who Chased L6 Out And What Are We Prepared To Do To Get Him Back?
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2011, 02:41:05 PM »
Either way he was out, so my general points still stand.  I suspect he wishes his family didn't find out, but obviously I can't speak on his behalf.

I'm not so sure it does, Seppuku.  What personal decision of his does he regret?  It stands to reason that he regrets being found out, but that was:
1. Not something that was his decision.
2. Not better than coming out deliberately.

But anyway, I support his decision not to come out to his dad.  Clearly he was attempting to be a public theist out of self-defence against a serious physical threat, and that was a reasonable decision on his part, even if it ultimately failed.  He was not in a position to be an atheist in anything but his own mind; his family situation prevented him from being a part of what DD calls an "atheist community".

I think this forum was probably one of the only places he could turn to for support, but thanks to his family, he hasn't even got that. I still don't see reason why people who find themselves in a dilemma choosing to not come out fully are cowards, I can see why a portion of them may be cowards, but not all of them.

Seppuku, Goodkat is the reason why more people need to come out!  He was alone.  Now, why was he alone?  If he'd been in trouble because he was a Muslim, then there'd likely have been some mosque in the region that he could have gone to for help, and they'd have no doubt been sympathetic to the situation of being persecuted by a Christian.  But no.  He's an atheist, and as I said in my last post, we atheists 'gotta look out for ourselves...sad, that.

The forum was a source of moral support, certainly, but what else could it do?  Ultimately it was his presence on this forum that got him found out - a high price for what little we had to offer.  He came here because he was alone and needed help.  Well, we could give him conversation.  But wouldn't it have been a whole lot better if we'd been able to refer him to a local secular-support organization?  If one had even existed there that we knew about?  Maybe then we'd still be able to talk to him now.  Maybe, if the other local atheists in his area who weren't in as oppressive situations as his was, had come out - maybe then they'd have been able to form a community of some sort.  Maybe they would have been able to help him.  That's how it works for other groups.  Why, apart from prevalent[1] cowardice, can't it work for us?

DD has been a little over-the-top in his advocacy of universal coming-out.  As Goodkat's situation shows, there are some situations that warrant greater discretion.  But what I don't think you understand here, is that it is for people like Goodkat that the rest of us need to out ourselves as atheists.  It's for people like him, that we need to form communities and support each other.  Because it's atheists like him who suffer the most when the rest of us keep to ourselves.

Some choose not to out of respect, as you can find in examples in this thread (like respect for an ill parent in her late years), and in other cases it can be about well-being, whether that's a person incapable of supporting themselves or somebody who's likely to face abuse. I'd much prefer it if people felt more inclined to help or advise people out of those situations rather than judge them as poor atheists who are too cowardly to come forth and defend their disbelief. Those who don't come out fully because of respect, well, ignorant folk are capable of earning a person's respect even if they're ignorant of what makes you different, you can't say they're not members of atheist community if there's a select few who they refuse to tell they're atheist. So I object to any generalisations on the subject.

I've given the "closeted from a select few" thing some thought, and I am inclined to agree with you that there are some cases where it's justified.  But what makes it dicey is if those select few have contact with others to whom you might want to come out.  If you want to keep your frail, elderly grandmother in the dark re: your atheism because it's just not worth it, then that makes sense - on its own.  But who else do you have to keep it from, then?  Siblings?  Probably.  Parents?  Probably.  What about people who know your siblings and/or parents?  It doesn't take much for this "closeted from a select few" policy to turn into full secrecy, if you're really serious about preserving poor old grandma's feelings.  And then it becomes a situation where your atheism is kept entirely secret from the world, for the sake of grandma's feelings.
 1. Prevalent, not universal.  There are a lot of people who could afford to come out, who could afford to do some good in the world, who choose not to because it would be inconvenient.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2011, 02:53:11 PM by Azdgari »
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Offline L6

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Re: Re: Who Chased L6 Out And What Are We Prepared To Do To Get Him Back?
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2011, 12:27:26 AM »
If you want to keep your frail, elderly grandmother in the dark re: your atheism because it's just not worth it, then that makes sense - on its own.  But who else do you have to keep it from, then? 
This was my situation. Way back when I sent those letters to my family, I didn't include my grandfather. He only died a few months ago, and I'm pretty sure he never knew; the rest of my family was wise enough not to mention it to him, either. I knew they wouldn't. They're sensible in all respects aside from their religion. On the one hand you have family like mine, who are more apt to try ignoring and suppressing the fact that there is an atheist in the family, and on the other hand you have spiteful families who will vocally demonize the perceived devil in their midst to everyone. Anyone who cares what their family thinks probably knows what kind of family they have, and who to tell and not tell, if such matters.
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Online Azdgari

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2011, 12:51:07 AM »
Trouble is, the ones that you "can tell" might end up telling ones that you didn't trust so much with the knowledge.  There is, in principle, no way to be certain to prevent the knowledge from trickling back to the ones you really don't want to get that knowledge.  Even if you're really careful of who to tell, the ones you do tell might not have the exact same "who not to tell" list as you do, and it might only take one slip-up.


As an aside, I realize why the original thread that spawned this is in the Pit.  It's prime Pit-material.  But why is this thread also in the pit?
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Offline Bereft_of_Faith

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2011, 12:51:14 AM »
One of the good things about being an atheist is that one doesn't have that 'you will deny me three times' passage hanging over our heads.  I'm sure Peter never imagined he's deny his lord, but he did.  For shame.

We on the other hand are completely free to pick and choose with whom we share personal aspects of our lives.  We are under no obligation to proselytize, and if we're cornered (in a situation where our life would be adversely effected by admitting to our atheism) we are free to lie.  Why?  Because it's nobody's damned business unless we make it their business.   If I tell Joe, and he tells Bob, and Bob (a rabid xian who happens to be my boss) cross-examines me on the issue, I'll say "No, I'm not really an atheist'  In short, fuck Bob.  What makes him think he deserves to know something non-business related,  I have elected not to share with him?

There was an issue in another thread regarding holding atheists to a strict standard of profession.  What a colossally bad idea.  OneTrueAtheist?    If one feels one has to be loud and proud, fine, do so.  There are a lot of aspects of my life I have no intention of sharing with anyone, and my views on religion and politics are often among them. 

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2011, 03:19:26 AM »
We on the other hand are completely free to pick and choose with whom we share personal aspects of our lives.  We are under no obligation to proselytize, and if we're cornered (in a situation where our life would be adversely effected by admitting to our atheism) we are free to lie.  Why?  Because it's nobody's damned business unless we make it their business.   If I tell Joe, and he tells Bob, and Bob (a rabid xian who happens to be my boss) cross-examines me on the issue, I'll say "No, I'm not really an atheist'  In short, fuck Bob.  What makes him think he deserves to know something non-business related,  I have elected not to share with him?

Yeah, he deserves to keep his bigotry perfectly intact, without it being challenged by reality at all.  Just like Goodkat deserved not to have outed atheist friends to help him out when his dad went psycho on him.  But hey, like you say, it's not like we have any moral obligations...we're just atheists, right!

There was an issue in another thread regarding holding atheists to a strict standard of profession.  What a colossally bad idea.  OneTrueAtheist?    If one feels one has to be loud and proud, fine, do so.  There are a lot of aspects of my life I have no intention of sharing with anyone, and my views on religion and politics are often among them.

That is your right.  Just don't pretend to care.
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Offline Bereft_of_Faith

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2011, 03:34:27 AM »
Yeah, he deserves to keep his bigotry perfectly intact, without it being challenged by reality at all.  Just like Goodkat deserved not to have outed atheist friends to help him out when his dad went psycho on him.  But hey, like you say, it's not like we have any moral obligations...we're just atheists, right!

We do not have any moral obligations because we're atheists.  You and I may feel we have ethical or moral obligations for other reasons, but me not believing in biblegod does not obligate me in any way to do anything.

But it has to be black or white, doesn't it?  I find it disgusting that I am forced to defend my own personal actions to you, by saying that I DO engage theists in real life.  I sometimes do it with no good thought as to the outcome.  When I do that, I think I've acted rashly.  I'm not defending the weak or helpless, I'm defending not believing in god.  What an empty act that is.  Bottom line, I'll do what's best for me when no one else's welfare is clearly at stake, and the atheist gestapo can kiss my ass if they don't like it.  I got out of religion, in part, because I don't like people who are as flawed as I am, telling me how to behave.

Quote
That is your right.  Just don't pretend to care.

And it's your right to say that, just don't pretend you have any insight about what I do and don't care about, nor any authority to dictate what I will and won't say.


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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2011, 03:47:26 AM »
We do not have any moral obligations because we're atheists.  You and I may feel we have ethical or moral obligations for other reasons, but me not believing in biblegod does not obligate me in any way to do anything.

Agreed.  Hopefully, though, we do take some social obligations onto ourselves.  As human beings, rather than as atheists.

But it has to be black or white, doesn't it?  I find it disgusting that I am forced to defend my own personal actions to you, by saying that I DO engage theists in real life.  I sometimes do it with no good thought as to the outcome.  When I do that, I think I've acted rashly.  I'm not defending the weak or helpless, I'm defending not believing in god.  What an empty act that is.  Bottom line, I'll do what's best for me when no one else's welfare is clearly at stake, and the atheist gestapo can kiss my ass if they don't like it.  I got out of religion, in part, because I don't like people who are as flawed as I am, telling me how to behave.

What the hell is this a response to, BoF?  When have I or anyone else brought up "engaging theists"?  What good would that do?  Sheesh.

I am not talking about proselytizing.  Davedave wasn't, either, afaik.  Arguing with theists can be exciting, but it's ultimately futile.  The ones who want to argue are generally the ones least likely to take what you say to heart (the same holds true on this forum, btw, only more so).  I am talking about trying to form a support network for atheists so that we don't have to be so damned afraid of, for example, coming out to people.  I am talking about putting a human face on atheism.  Ultimately, that's necessary in order for atheists to be able to take part in real-life communities without pretending to be theists.  Some parts of the world are already there.  It can be done.  The question is, do you care about it?

Quote
That is your right.  Just don't pretend to care.

And it's your right to say that, just don't pretend you have any insight about what I do and don't care about, nor any authority to dictate what I will and won't say.

Go for it.  If you want to claim to care about people and then advocate leaving them out to dry, then that dishonesty is yours to engage in.  I have no authority on this.  I'm just advising you against hypocrisy.  I had thought that you would want to avoid that, regardless of what I had to say.
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Offline Bereft_of_Faith

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2011, 04:11:20 AM »
@Azdgari

OK.  Let's stop this here before it gets any further.

I took your reply to my post as holding the position that if I didn't challenge theists around me, I would be effectively banned from the atheist community.  I see that's not what you were trying to say.  'Support network for atheists?'  Count me in.  Sounds like a fine idea.  I always thought this forum qualified.  Respectfully, how does it not?

As for the question you posed:  'do I care about it'.  I believe I do.  I will probably exempt myself from putting my human face on anything, because I really believe that I do whatever that thing is, a grave injustice by linking me to it.  I am, for a variety of reasons, unfit to represent any point of view I value.

In your original reply to my post, and to DaveDave's contribution in the other thread, all I heard was 'One has to act a prescribed way in order to be an atheist, otherwise one is a coward', and hearing that just sets me the F off.

We have our own moral imperatives, and one should be true to them, but I reject that atheism carries moral imperatives.



Online Azdgari

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2011, 04:27:04 AM »
@Azdgari

OK.  Let's stop this here before it gets any further.

I took your reply to my post as holding the position that if I didn't challenge theists around me, I would be effectively banned from the atheist community.  I see that's not what you were trying to say.  'Support network for atheists?'  Count me in.  Sounds like a fine idea.  I always thought this forum qualified.  Respectfully, how does it not?

First of all, I can't tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you took the initiative to stop us from ending up just arguing at each other.  In all honesty, I probably wouldn't have done it - so thanks for being the voice of calm.

The reason this forum doesn't really qualify, is that the help it can give is so limited.  It's just a place to talk to people online.  Take Goodkat's situation, since it's been brought up.[1]  He had this forum as a support network.  But, in the end, nothing we could say to him, nothing he could confide in us, would have done anything toward helping him in the way he needed.  He needed a real-life support network to be available.  He needed a community outside his dad's house that would accept him, that was sensitive to his specific sort of situation.  This forum had all the right sentiments, but had no power to help in any real way.  That's still true today.

As for the question you posed:  'do I care about it'.  I believe I do.  I will probably exempt myself from putting my human face on anything, because I really believe that I do whatever that thing is, a grave injustice by linking me to it.  I am, for a variety of reasons, unfit to represent any point of view I value.

Well, you're far more of an authority on the effect you'd have than I am.  But I wasn't talking about your (in)actions; I was talking about your words.  Since they were based on a misunderstanding, though, nevermind.  ;)

In your original reply to my post, and to DaveDave's contribution in the other thread, all I heard was 'One has to act a prescribed way in order to be an atheist, otherwise one is a coward', and hearing that just sets me the F off.

Yeah, Davedave's not much of a diplomat, nor does he do a good job of getting his point across in a way that'll help it be received.  His point, as I understand it, is 'One has to act in a certain way in order to contribute toward atheist acceptance; if one pays lip-service to atheist acceptance but doesn't act in that way, then one is a coward'.

We have our own moral imperatives, and one should be true to them, but I reject that atheism carries moral imperatives.

So do I.  Atheism is a true/false position, as it does not contain a value-component; therefore it carries no moral imperatives.  Goals contain value-components, though, and the goal of atheist acceptance in society is something that does carry moral imperatives for the one holding it.  Agreed?
 1. Or former situation, rather - I have no idea where he's at now.
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Offline Bereft_of_Faith

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2011, 05:12:37 AM »
So do I.  Atheism is a true/false position, as it does not contain a value-component; therefore it carries no moral imperatives.  Goals contain value-components, though, and the goal of atheist acceptance in society is something that does carry moral imperatives for the one holding it.  Agreed?

Conditionally. 

In some ways, I am no different than anyone else, so I expect that others also have a host of issues that demand their attention.  To say that the stated goal carries an imperative, troubles me. 

I am a liberal, an atheist, an animal lover, a humanist, I'm in favor of saving the environment.  I favor racial and sexual equality.   I support space exploration, but I'll be honest, I just don't have the energy to be an activist in all these areas.  I think in this way, most people are like me.   Now let's say I accept the imperatives to a third or half of those positions.  What about the remainder?  If I prioritize feeding the hungry over space exploration, both of which I deem to have moral imperatives, I am left with a xian kind of guilt because I cannot do more.  As you may have noticed, I've HAD it with guilt.   :)  So, I cannot accept that any of these positions have imperatives.  If I do, I will be wrestling the same old angels.  I can only say, 'I'll do what I can', and hope others will do what they can.

Offline Seppuku

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2011, 05:23:09 AM »
Quote from: Azdgari
I've given the "closeted from a select few" thing some thought, and I am inclined to agree with you that there are some cases where it's justified.  But what makes it dicey is if those select few have contact with others to whom you might want to come out.  If you want to keep your frail, elderly grandmother in the dark re: your atheism because it's just not worth it, then that makes sense - on its own.  But who else do you have to keep it from, then?  Siblings?  Probably.  Parents?  Probably.  What about people who know your siblings and/or parents?  It doesn't take much for this "closeted from a select few" policy to turn into full secrecy, if you're really serious about preserving poor old grandma's feelings.  And then it becomes a situation where your atheism is kept entirely secret from the world, for the sake of grandma's feelings.

I don't think my grandmother actually knows, not that I've held out from telling her, just that being an atheist in a family doesn't seem like a big deal (I was 9, it wasn't a struggle and nobody was bothered by it) and I've just not ever had a point in conversation where saying, "I don't believe in God" is relevant. My family doesn't tend to talk about religion, not because it's a scary topic, but because their attitude is that it's a personal thing you shouldn't force on others and have a policy of "it's up to you" (and I was a God-believer because at school we had to pray to God, my parents made no move in the matter) so I suspect if my grandmother knew, she wouldn't have a problem with it, but then I don't actually know her beliefs, aside from being catholic and her philosophy of "it's not about the quality of wine, but the quantity", who says the Irish don't live up to their stereotype? ;)

I think it's more or less how L6 has stated it:

Quote from: L6
On the one hand you have family like mine, who are more apt to try ignoring and suppressing the fact that there is an atheist in the family, and on the other hand you have spiteful families who will vocally demonize the perceived devil in their midst to everyone. Anyone who cares what their family thinks probably knows what kind of family they have, and who to tell and not tell, if such matters.

Quote from: Azdgari
I'm not so sure it does, Seppuku.  What personal decision of his does he regret?  It stands to reason that he regrets being found out, but that was:
1. Not something that was his decision.
2. Not better than coming out deliberately.

It's possible he regrets his family finding out. Okay, he had very little control over that. The main point (whilst others don't apply to Goodkat) I wanted to drive home was that his situation wouldn't/doesn't merit him as a coward.

Quote from: Azdgari
Seppuku, Goodkat is the reason why more people need to come out!  He was alone.  Now, why was he alone?  If he'd been in trouble because he was a Muslim, then there'd likely have been some mosque in the region that he could have gone to for help, and they'd have no doubt been sympathetic to the situation of being persecuted by a Christian.  But no.  He's an atheist, and as I said in my last post, we atheists 'gotta look out for ourselves...sad, that.

The forum was a source of moral support, certainly, but what else could it do?  Ultimately it was his presence on this forum that got him found out - a high price for what little we had to offer.  He came here because he was alone and needed help.  Well, we could give him conversation.  But wouldn't it have been a whole lot better if we'd been able to refer him to a local secular-support organization?  If one had even existed there that we knew about?  Maybe then we'd still be able to talk to him now.  Maybe, if the other local atheists in his area who weren't in as oppressive situations as his was, had come out - maybe then they'd have been able to form a community of some sort.  Maybe they would have been able to help him.  That's how it works for other groups.  Why, apart from prevalent[1] cowardice, can't it work for us?

I remember when reading his threads I was thinking, "if only there was an atheist support group for him". I think a lot of atheists should come out and join other atheists into sticking up for their right to be atheist and offer support. I think it's up to those atheists who are out to help others come out. I can already see atheist campaigns to help people come out by delivering the message of, "you're not alone in the world", even if the religious find such campaigns to be offensive. But also, I can see people running atheist support campaigns without their grandparents or even parents knowing about it.
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Offline Bereft_of_Faith

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2011, 05:23:39 AM »
Yeah, Davedave's not much of a diplomat, nor does he do a good job of getting his point across in a way that'll help it be received.  His point, as I understand it, is 'One has to act in a certain way in order to contribute toward atheist acceptance; if one pays lip-service to atheist acceptance but doesn't act in that way, then one is a coward'.

The solution seems obvious to me, using an analogy of crusaders and believers.  The crusaders were trained to fight and their efforts were applauded and supported by the members of the church.  Crusaders were needed, but few believers answered the call.  For a crusader to say that all the normal parishioners who are not crusaders are heretics, seems very foolish. 

Offline kin hell

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2011, 07:22:17 AM »
  Take Goodkat's situation, since it's been brought up.[1]  He had this forum as a support network.  But, in the end, nothing we could say to him, nothing he could confide in us, would have done anything toward helping him in the way he needed.  He needed a real-life support network to be available.  He needed a community outside his dad's house that would accept him, that was sensitive to his specific sort of situation.  This forum had all the right sentiments, but had no power to help in any real way.  That's still true today.
 1. Or former situation, rather - I have no idea where he's at now.

Azdgari considering our past I feel I must state that I have no ulterior motives replying here, neither am I not looking for any kind of blue.

I'm just wondering if you would say Goodkat could've/might’ve benefitted in any way at all from any contact with this forum?

I think his position (from what I can make out) made it appear impossible to him to come out, so (and I'm purely guessing) it seems he could hardly have been here asking for or expecting advice on how or whether or not to come out.
If this carries any weight, then you'd have to ask, just why was he here?

Then you'd also have to ask did this forum serve any useful function at all for him in his time here? Again, if it didn't, just why was he here?

And lastly if the forum served any purpose whatsoever for a fellow atheist, then how can it be right to deny that atheist access to it even if said fellow atheist is a coward as DD defines?

Again please don't get me wrong, there is little you say here regarding this that I heavily disagree with, and with no desire to bring any of the other thread’s cat-fight over here, I’m still left wondering if you agree with the central point made  in your “best-possible-reading” clarified DD’s position……….
Yeah, Davedave's not much of a diplomat, nor does he do a good job of getting his point across in a way that'll help it be received.  His point, as I understand it, is 'One has to act in a certain way in order to contribute toward atheist acceptance; if one pays lip-service to atheist acceptance but doesn't act in that way, then one is a coward'.

and if you do believe such people are cowards, do you feel like DD that they should be banned from this forum?
 
Quote from: DD
However, the question here isn't about how to come out.  It's about how our community deals with those who have not yet.
I add this as evidence that DD was making quite a few more statements than that covered by your clarification, and he was obviously not interested in how to help them, but in how they should be dealt with by this forum.

Elsewhere regarding: discussion as to how this forum might help some one come out, do you not recognise the obvious fact that if people are arbitrarily banned under any exclusionary criteria, then the forum from which they are banned can have absolutely no effect “ever” in helping them find whatever is needed to enable their coming out?
« Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 07:43:39 AM by kin hell »
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Offline pingnak

Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2011, 07:27:04 AM »
I have several problems here.  First off, do we really HAVE to use 'gay' words for all of this?  'Coming out'.  'Closeted'.  'Loud & Proud'.

While parallels to the 'gay movement' are there for any marginalized population, I don't think the gay 'formula' to acceptance is necessarily the right one, nor is following in their fabulous shoes.  I got nothing at all against gays, but I'm not gay.  By adopting that language, we simply get lumped together with gays, and as a bonus, we get the 'PERV' stigma in certain people's so-called minds.

What's the right way?  I dunno.  I'm only an evil genius of the DE-structive sort.

Atheists/Agnostics/etc. don't NEED to be 'made' into anything.

"Anarchists of the world, unite!"

Being underground isn't necessarily BAD, either.

I personally LIKE the internet as a means of communicating.  I LIKE humor as a means to spread a message to accepting minds.  Being underground is FUN.  Being anonymous is HANDY.

As secular people, we're not facing sodomy laws, or a compunction to perform sexual acts in one way or another that's 'banned'.  (At least, not all of us.)  If we want to, or get brain damaged, we can even go back to religion.  It happens.  People lose their faith.  Some people GET some kind of faith.  So what? 

We are not forced by biology or ethics, or anything else, to DO anything or to BE anything.  Above all, being unreligious IS NOT A RELIGION.  Just because you're an atheist, it doesn't mean you need to knock on people's doors at 6:00am and ask them to drop their religions, whatever they are.

I don't give a flying fuck whether people believe in gods, or not.  I think that getting someone out of an ABUSIVE church that wants mindless zombies and into a moderate one that doesn't judge them for learning a thing or two outside of church is a complete WIN.  At least get them SHOPPING for churches.

Maybe even a bigger win (for them) than abandoning the social framework that a church provides them.  Because every success story for getting a 'Christian' to leave an asshole church for a 'nice' one and live blissfully ever after will encourage more of the flock to follow THEM and become MODERATE Christians.  And let's face it, moderate Christians are NOT a problem, compared to their nut-job cousins with fatwa envy.  They don't have to give up their sky ogre, their savior onna stick, dressing up on sunday and looking for a parking spot, then trying to out-pious each other.  Nothing.  Just the trash talk and the politics.  And generally speaking, they'll still be 'Christian' enough to still be invited to family gatherings, though there are always exceptions.

IF someone like GoodKat is stuck using mom & dad's computer to communicate, what would probably be more helpful up-front would be information on how to get THEIR OWN netbook for well under $100.  Slapping a password onto their login account.  Maybe even setting up a Linux USB key or CDR to boot the family computer with, that doesn't even mount the hard drive (all local attempts to find out what you did with the computer will FAIL, and it will circumvent 'parental control' software installed onto a computer to monitor and prevent access to web sites).  Setting up a google mail+document account to keep storage for their private documents out of nosey people's direct reach.  Where to get a wifi connection.  Which browsers have persistent 'private/incognito' modes (Firefox/SeaMonkey) that will cover your online tracks WITHOUT having to remember to launch them a certain way, and using keywords, instead of bookmarks to open sites with a search engine (like typing 'god hates amputees' into google, which eventually has the effect of pulling a web site towards the top of their 'auto-complete' list), so nosey people won't find out where you've been, and start reading all of your posts, effectively robbing you of your anonymity and FREEDOM to post what you like without direct social consequences.

You know, all the simple, little things to keep mom & dad & brothers & sisters & your friends & their friends and acquaintances and other people from spying on you and literally reading your diary out loud to each other.  Especially the people who find themselves sharing a home and a PC with nutjob cultists.  No, it won't protect you from feds who can 'wiretap' your internet activity and see a complete log of everything you did.  It WILL absolutely protect you from casual eavesdropping from others, even if they're a long way beyond computer literate.

Because it HAPPENS.  Even your KIDS can get into YOUR account.  (Or in the case of my brother, his kids and his girlfriend's mail and documents - and there were some unkind words about his 'ex' and her recent behavior in there... 'Awkward' only begins to describe the fallout.)


Offline Seppuku

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2011, 09:45:58 AM »
I think it's more or less social acceptance and seeking to live in a secular society (well, secular run with secular laws) where it's lacking. There are places where atheists are persecuted and something ought to be done about it and I think atheists groups are capable of doing it. I don't think as atheists we're a threat to religion or that religion is the enemy but there are many religious folk that perceive atheism in that light and of course there are atheists who want religion destroyed, whilst they're welcome to the view, it perhaps doesn't help.

The terms 'coming out' and 'in the closet' I think are fair terms, but I understand your point about how people perceive it.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 10:00:10 AM by Seppuku »
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Offline Paperbackslave

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #20 on: January 23, 2011, 10:08:25 AM »
I just want to put a word in here from my view from the other side of the monitor screen.

This forum HAS helped me .... simply by being here.  Im an introvert, surrounded by churchy types, located in rural nowhere.  There are NO groups of like minded people to hang with.  There are NO rallys or get togethers.

I think the internet and forums like these are a WONDERFUL tool for spreading information and opening minds. They dont call stuff viral on the internet for nothing.   

I dont think many people actually leave their house one day with the idea of finding out more about 'those godless heathens'.  What would they do, go to the town square and start asking people if they are atheist?  But - they just might decide to do a Google on it!  And if they spend even one afternoon looking over the posts here, just what might open up in their minds?  At the very least, it might get them thinking.  This is a good thing.

And those timid types who are wishy washy, undecided.  They may come here and lurk.  And I like to think that with every post they read, their resolve is strengthened.  Sounds like a support group to me.  And I, at least, am grateful for it.

Atheists are spectators in a grand battle of stupid ideas.  Sadly, these ideas get people killed in the name of a loving god on both sides of the delusion.

Offline Seppuku

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #21 on: January 23, 2011, 10:49:23 AM »
I think it can be a mix, I mean the internet definitely offers support for those who need it, but it doesn't necessarily need to end there. At the end of the day we should be living in a fair society for all walks of life, so no intolerance and atheism is a walk of life worth defending where it's under threat or persecution. But at the same time I don't have this idealistic view of prescribed duty of all atheists to stand up and fight the revolution. I don't like the idea of atheism have a threatening image, after all, I'm happy for people to still believe in their religions. But of course, there's so much injustice that it can be difficult to make a choice on what you stand strongest for and we all have our own lives to live without people telling us what we should be doing with it.
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Offline Paperbackslave

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #22 on: January 23, 2011, 11:30:50 AM »
I think it can be a mix, I mean the internet definitely offers support for those who need it, but it doesn't necessarily need to end there.

Most definitely agreed! 

Im thinking the rise of atheism is and will be a very gradual thing though.  Which is probably for the best.  Kinda like losing weight - the slower you take it off, the better it stays off  :laugh:  I mean, the further back in history you go, the more religious the populace - mostly because there was no better explanation.  We have a cure for that now, though - science!  And so I like to think that the further forward in time we go, the fewer religious there will be - assuming we follow the pattern so far.

Simply through a better educated populace, if nothing else.  Young members in church are declining.  Todays busy, stressed parents dont have time or inclination for church.  Bad press for the church comes out every day.  It might take time, but I am thinking it is inevitable.  Barring some catastrophe that throws us back into the dark ages - heaven forbid!
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #23 on: January 24, 2011, 06:01:50 AM »
That statement cuts the membership of this forum down to (I'd say) about 10-20% of what it currently is.  You cut adrift and chase away the vast bulk of people here - cast them adrift without, in some cases, the ONE safe haven they have to talk about who they are and what they believe.

The more we let in people who choose to be victims, the less we will be able to help them.  We have limited resources and our current tack makes zero progress against the headwinds we face.  I'm saying we should acknowledge that atheists who remain closeted are making their own beds, focus our attention on those who have come out and are also suffering.  Those people are ones who, when we help them, can be depended upon to jump in and start helping us help others more. 

Can you dispute the case here, Anfauglir?  Or will you continue to argue from consequences?

And that is bad because.....?  Doesn't what we do have consequences?  You say it like its a bad thing, to consider the real world consequences of our decisions.

More generally....I honestly don't see how driving away 90% of atheists is going to advance the "cause" of atheism.  Looking at this as a support group.....every month our local Humanist group meets at a member's house.  We advertise in local papers, and anyone is free to come along.  Should we, too, refuse admittance to anyone unless they can demonstrate that they are 100% open about their atheism to everyone, in all circumstances?  We'd shortly have a core group of.....well, I'd never know, because I wouldn't be allowed in.  Despite being 100% open in my professional life, as a school governor, in my letters to MP and papers, I would NOT get in as I still lie to my dear old mum.

I would like to see this website take steps towards being a more practical resources to atheists - maybe a stickied page with some contact details for groups and individuals would be a good first step.
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Offline Agamemnon

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #24 on: January 24, 2011, 09:22:56 AM »
Aren't both sides arguing from consequences?

We have a responsibility to remain as open and accepting of all atheists as possible, regardless of their status. There is no argument I have ever heard that makes me think that is it makes any sense at all to abuse or alienate atheists just because they haven't come out yet. Even if there was an argument, there's no way to even know for sure if everyone is open about their atheism or not. All someone has to do is to lie to us and tell us that they are out now. It's the atheist's forum version of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

The majority of American atheists were born to Christian households. The majority of atheists that are out didn't just decide one day that they were atheists and started running around telling everyone about their atheism. The majority of atheists who are out came out over time--it wasn't an instant conversion. They took their time. Those that are still in that process do not deserve our scorn and ridicule.

My idea of how this forum should treat all atheists is that it should always support them and encourage them to come out, but there should be absolutely no expectation or demand that they come out.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #25 on: January 24, 2011, 02:21:54 PM »
Let me weigh in with an overture.

Atheists are the most despised minority of people in the world.  We are hated in the US even more than homosexuals, and Americans hate homosexuals so much, they don't want them to be able to marry each other.  So, suffice it to say we have a mountain of prejudice and PR against us.  However, 35 years ago, the homosexuals were in a similar position as us and have made great advancements since then.

How? 

They figured out that people empathize with people they know.  Someone who hated gays softened on that position when he or she found out his son or niece or neighbor was gay.  "Jeez.  I thought I hated gays.  But I just found out Joe is gay.  And I've always liked Joe.  Maybe they aren't all so bad after all?"  That is the theory of how it works.  But of course, it does not always go that well.

They made, and continue to make, a great effort to get all homosexuals to come out to their families because this would help people's view of the entire gay community.  From a certain perspective, it is their moral obligation to each other to do this.  If some people do it, and others do not, some people are paying the price, while others are living off their payment.  That is immoral and parasitic. 

In general society when people break their moral obligations, society punishes cheaters.  This is how morals work.

Davedave is smartly taking a page from their playbook.  It is a proven strategy that works and directly applies to us.  We all owe it to each other to come out, at least to our families.  Those who do not are not helping us and are enjoying the fruits of the labor of others.  As such, they should not be considered a part of "us".  That is the theory behind it, at least.  While I have not worked out what the consequences for transgress should be, I am on board with the concept.   

I've heard a lot of discussion about private decisions and such and to an extent, I agree.  But I think we cannot encourage able bodied adults to stay silent.  To borrow from the gay movement a little more, Silence = Death.  We need to end the bigotry against us.   I know we are a diverse bunch, but so are gays.  They only have one thing that unites them and that has been enough.  If this matters to you, then we have to act together as a community.

To that end, we must encourage atheists to be out with their families.  We must find support strategies to help them.  And I think they can take a balanced approach, like L6 took with his own family.  It may not be necessary to inform your 86 year old grand mother you are an atheist.  But if you are a 30 year old atheist, it is time to grow up and be an adult.  Let your 60 year old mother know.  Let your siblings know.  Let your wife and especially your kids know.  It may be difficult, but it probably will not be as bad as you think.



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Offline L6

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #26 on: January 24, 2011, 03:16:39 PM »
Trouble is, the ones that you "can tell" might end up telling ones that you didn't trust so much with the knowledge. 
Yeah, I know. In my case, as I just explained in the split thread, is my grandfather couldn't remember anything for more than five minutes anyway, so ultimately it didn't matter. Just saved five minutes of being prayed for (which is torture enough, truth be told). Normally I always assume that if I tell one person something, then everyone knows, just to be safe. But just like embarassing personal factoids, you never really know who knows, because not everyone will tell you they know, so why worry about it?
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Offline Agamemnon

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #27 on: January 24, 2011, 03:24:13 PM »
They made, and continue to make, a great effort to get all homosexuals to come out to their families because this would help people's view of the entire gay community.  From a certain perspective, it is their moral obligation to each other to do this.  If some people do it, and others do not, some people are paying the price, while others are living off their payment.  That is immoral and parasitic. 

In general society when people break their moral obligations, society punishes cheaters.  This is how morals work.

But not always. We are capable of making exceptions in the interest of continuing to have the opportunity to encourage them to come out. We got to take our time to come out when we felt like it was right, why should they not be given the same?
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Offline L6

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #28 on: January 24, 2011, 03:29:52 PM »
They made, and continue to make, a great effort to get all homosexuals to come out to their families because this would help people's view of the entire gay community.
I'd like to point out a couple major flaws in this analogy that is actually a major benefit to atheism.

First, everyone is born an atheist, and atheist parents will, on the whole, have/raise atheist children. Putting aside the basis of homosexuality, homosexuals don't necessarily have/raise gay children, or at all. I'm guessing this makes it a little harder for their message to spread; it's mostly bottom-up from "out" child to parent, not so much top-down from parent to child.

Second, it's possible for atheists to eventually be a majority. It's not possible for gays to ever be a majority. Acceptance of gays as a majority attitude, I know, is the goal, but still.

In other words, for us there is an end game. Homosexuals will have to keep fighting, generation after generation.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2011, 03:31:26 PM by L6 »
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