Author Topic: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them  (Read 4732 times)

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Offline Agamemnon

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #29 on: January 24, 2011, 03:37:19 PM »
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.

I agree.

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.

I agree. I have no problem with the theory in general, but I do have a problem with atheists using it as a convenient excuse to abuse other atheists. That is my only real objection in all of this. And I've seen this happen a few times now.

If theists who are not out are benefitting from me, then I have no problem with that. Hopefully they will see my being out as an inspiration, but they won't if I act like a dick about it and try to shame them into being out too.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #30 on: January 24, 2011, 04:27:30 PM »
But not always.

Sorry, I don't understand what that is in reference to.  Do you mean, that is not how morals always work?

We got to take our time to come out when we felt like it was right, why should they not be given the same?

No, we all didn't.  Some of us were confronted at dinner when the grand parents were over.  Some of us had a friend or sibling rat us out.  Some of us had a parent see our browser history.  But that is not what I am talking about.  I am not saying we should out other poeple.  I am saying we should encourage them to come out.  And maybe twist arms a little. 

It is an uncomfortable thing, for sure.  I empathize with that.  But we need to convince people to do it, to help them become comfortable with the idea.  Sometimes people need a little kick in the butt to do these difficult things.  Sometimes they need someone else to make them realize they are not as fragile as they think they are.

I think we should help them forumulate a plan so it can be done on their terms and not come out at a very bad time.  We should not pet their hands and wait around until they become completely positive there will be no negative repurcussions whatsoever.   There is a downside to everything.  That is procrastination and avoiding the confrontation.   I went over all that in the L6 thread with Star Stuff before shit got out of hand. 


I agree. ...

I agree. 

Excellent.

If theists who are not out are benefitting from me, then I have no problem with that.

Well, I do, depending on the situation.  If it is a kid in high school or even college who depends on this parents, well, he gets a bye.  If it is an independent, middle aged guy who who fears what his parents will think, then he has absolutely no good reason to not do it.  I tolerate that about as well as I tolerate some dingus with a cart load of groceries cutting in front of me at Piggly Wiggly.  I am prepared to call him a spinelss coward if he drags his feet too much.  Probably even worse.



I'd like to point out a couple major flaws in this analogy... 

I would not call those flaws, but let's not get into a debate about that.  The point is, I think you are right about those points.  Thank you for mentioning them.

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Offline kin hell

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #31 on: January 24, 2011, 06:03:02 PM »
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. 

So are you concurring with the idea people should be allowed to make private decisions, or are you concurring with DD's position that if you are not 100% out (at least to your family) you are a coward and do not warrant a place in this community?

I only ask because what you've written seems to imply that you concur with both.



As I passingly indicated to Azdgari, these latest revisions of Davedave's original position are just not accurate.
They are  inaccurate  in that you and Azdgari both have  edited out the actual   crucial parameters (that proved so controversial) of DD's original position.

DD didn't  add  qualifiers to just how "out" one must be (qualifiers such as >at least to our families<) he stated ....100% out or you are cowardly arsehole bitches and whining babies etc.

You both  fail to acknowledge (unless I've missed it) the fact that DD originally maintained that anyone who is not out 100% was automatically precluded from this community's membership by lack of worth, and should actually be banned from the forum by the forum adopting his criteria (and resultant consequences).





I am not in the least interested in dragging the rest of that thread's  bullshit over here, and I understand why both you and Azdgari (as the only supporters DD publicly named and claimed >apart from L6 who eventually disqualified himself<) feel the need to revise  DD's unpopular position
The reason I have to raise this issue against such  selective editing  is that if you read both threads with any awareness, it becomes apparent that
1. no-one has issue with the desirability of atheists being out.
2. no-one has issues with helping atheists come out.
3. the only issues people had were with the exact controversial points that both you and Azdgari have "bleached" from DD's original position.

And if DD hadn't presented such polarising and controversial agenda (that these post-apologetics now seem to deem too unpopular to even admit to) in the first place, then we wouldn't have seen the L6 thread take the inevitable path it did.

I would think, that instead of risking changing history (however understandably) by just selectively excluding the perhaps unpalatable chunks of dogma you've both been named as in support of, it would be safer if you and Azdgari just make a  position statement of your own addressing your relative positions regarding  DD's original statements  (not the revised and watered down versions)


 




« Last Edit: January 24, 2011, 06:06:32 PM by kin hell »
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #32 on: January 24, 2011, 07:02:31 PM »
Kin hell, I didn't read every post that Davedave made in that thread.  Frankly, they got so confrontational and condescending that it wasn't worth it to me to read them, so I mentally summarized DD's position from what I remembered of his other posts.  Clearly, that was an error on my part given that I then went on to present that summary to others as fact.

As for my own position, I've articulated it in this thread already, and I don't really care where it meshes or diverges from Davedave's.  Especially since, apparently, finding that out would mean re-reading the whole other thread with an eye to Davedave's posts.
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #33 on: January 24, 2011, 07:18:41 PM »
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.

Good, I'm not either.  If I wanted that, then I'd be arguing with Davedave about whether or not all girls should be legally forced to take intravenous contraception.  Oh, wait.  Crap.   :(

Seriously though, that's well behind us as far as I'm concerned.

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?

Sure, he probably did.  Whether it was worth it, given that it's how he was found out, is up for dispute - but it's not immediately relevant to your question.  My answer is "yes".

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?

Probably because he needed help.  Unfortunately, only some kinds of help were on offer.

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?

It was never my position that forum-access should be denied to anybody.  If DD said something about actually limiting forum access to people based on that criterion, then I disagree with him.

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'.

In general, I do agree with it, but be aware that it's very vague.  What is a reasonable contribution to make?  I probably disagree with Davedave about that, and I probably also disagree with you about that; it remains an unexamined quantity.  Certainly some behaviours (context included) make people cowards.  And no matter how carefully-worded a rule is, there is bound to be an exception.  In Goodkat's case, there was no tangible contribution he could make without moving out of his home (which I hope is what he ultimately managed to do), so I wouldn't call him a coward.

and if you do believe such people are cowards, do you feel like DD that they should be banned from this forum?

As I said above, no, I don't think they should be banned.  But for those who actually do exhibit cowardice, like a father who's unwilling to tell his wife and kids that he doesn't believe in mommy's religion, yet come on here and rail against the evils of that same religion, then I believe their behaviour should be called out for what it is:  Cowardly.

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.

Only if you miss the bolded word.

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?

Of course.
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Offline kin hell

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #34 on: January 24, 2011, 10:41:53 PM »
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.

Good, I'm not either.  If I wanted that, then I'd be arguing with Davedave about whether or not all girls should be legally forced to take intravenous contraception.  Oh, wait.  Crap.   :(

Seriously though, that's well behind us as far as I'm concerned.

Good on you bloke, I am not a keeper of grudge either (at all) and it pleases me very much to aim for pax foruma.



And  again I find myself in strong agreement with virtually all you've replied especially now that I understand that you weren't continuing/representing DD's more extreme platform. Thanks for that clarification.



a further fine tune of my perspective
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.

Quote from: Azd
Only if you miss the bolded word.

You are right,  there is no doubt that outside of that thread DD may have all the scope and desire in the world to discuss how to help atheists come out.
But within the confines of that thread, I believe it's quite apparent that DD was originally pushing very hard for the adoption of his exclusionary criteria.  And once that criteria was adopted (as you've acknowledged) they'd be no further need for considering how to help closeted atheists come out, because his criteria meant closeted atheists would have been driven from the community as unworthy cowards.
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Offline L6

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #35 on: January 25, 2011, 12:21:30 PM »
I would not call those flaws, but let's not get into a debate about that.  The point is, I think you are right about those points.  Thank you for mentioning them.
Not flaws. Flaws in the anlogy, where the analogy breaks down and works in our favor. :)
« Last Edit: January 25, 2011, 12:25:18 PM by L6 »
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #36 on: January 25, 2011, 01:14:25 PM »
So are you concurring with the idea people should be allowed to make private decisions, or are you concurring with DD's position that if you are not 100% out (at least to your family) you are a coward and do not warrant a place in this community?

I only ask because what you've written seems to imply that you concur with both.

I am not positive you got Dd's point accurately, but I'm not going to argue that with you.  I am not Davedave, I do not speak for him and I only just skimmed that thread myself.  But I will go by what you have above.  I do not think those are mutually exclusive, but I would not say I agree with that 100%. 

It is a private decision, but I am not sure what that means.  Does that mean it is free from scrutiny?  Is it free from all judgment?  If so, I do not think there is any such thing.  All decisions have consequences and are judged.  I think that may be an inescapable fact of life. 

Being a private decision does not make it any less of a moral obligation, in my mind.  As with all moral decisions, there are social consequences.  People who have affairs with married people are not cast out of society, but they do have bad reputations.   It is a private decision whether to do so, but it still has consequences.  People who cut in line at the grocery store also face some kind of societal correction.  Where does it rate to be an in-the-closet atheist if you really do not have to be?  I do not know, exactly.  I do not think that means he or she should be utterly shunned or forbidden from using the forum.  But I do think there should be some kind of stigma attached to it.  That is how morals are enforced - societal pressure.


As I passingly indicated to Azdgari, these latest revisions of Davedave's original position are just not accurate.

I am not here to recite Dd's ideas or try to explain them.  What I wrote is my edition.  It may have been inspired from Dd, it may be derived from his original idea, but that does not mean I am whitewashing anything. 

Like Az, I only skimmed that thread.


I would think, that instead of risking changing history (however understandably) by just selectively excluding the perhaps unpalatable chunks of dogma you've both been named as in support of, it would be safer if you and Azdgari just make a  position statement of your own addressing your relative positions regarding  DD's original statements  (not the revised and watered down versions)

What I wrote was a position statement of my own and I gave absolutely no indication that it should be taken otherwise.  I started off with "Let me weigh in...," not, "Let me try to explain what Dd said/meant...".  I understand you may be a bit chaffed.  I would be too.  But don't take it out on me.

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Offline Agamemnon

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #37 on: January 25, 2011, 03:13:59 PM »
But not always.

Sorry, I don't understand what that is in reference to.  Do you mean, that is not how morals always work?

In some circumstances we do not punish those who violate morals. We make exceptions.

But that is not what I am talking about.  I am not saying we should out other poeple.  I am saying we should encourage them to come out.  And maybe twist arms a little. 

I disagree with the arm-twisting, butt kicking, etc. I don't think it does anything more than alienate people and cause problems. I have no evidence to suggest that it works or that it can be justified. All I've ever seen it do is alienate atheists.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #38 on: January 25, 2011, 04:20:24 PM »
In some circumstances we do not punish those who violate morals. We make exceptions.

Thanks for the clarification.

Give me an example of a situation where someone would do that and why.

I disagree with the arm-twisting, butt kicking, etc. I don't think it does anything more than alienate people and cause problems.

I think it depends what is meant by "a little arm twisting".  We may have very different things in mind.  Could you clarify what you mean?  Are you against any and all social pressure to encourage atheists to come out?  If you think some social pressure is acceptable, what are the limits?   

You've said you agree with the strategy of coming out.  How does that strategy get implemented if people refuse to come out?  There is an old sight gag where an army officer is addressing his troops.  He is talking about a dangerous mission and he needs volunteers.  He asks for any volunteers to step forward.  Every one of his soldiers take a step backward, except one sucker.  I don't want to be that sucker.  I don't want anyone to be.  How do we keep that from happening?

Would you have a problem with, say, me voicing my opinion to Atheist Bob - a 35 year old man who is an employed, married, father of two who is currently completely in the closet - that  he should have a conversation with his wife about his position? 

Would it be too far, in your opinion, for me to encourage him to do it?  What if I were to tell him it is his moral obligation to do so?  What if here were to refuse and I told him I don't respect his decision? 

I'm not trying to be argumentative, just understand where you think the limits should be. 

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Offline kin hell

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #39 on: January 25, 2011, 11:41:19 PM »


I am not positive you got Dd's point accurately, but I'm not going to argue that with you.
I'm pretty certain I got DD's original point perfectly accurately, but I agree let's not argue about that.


Quote from: screwtape
I do not think that means he or she should be utterly shunned or forbidden from using the forum.  But I do think there should be some kind of stigma attached to it.  That is how morals are enforced - societal pressure.
My bold     and that is the position clarification that  DD had essentially made necessary, by his repeated blanket assertion that he and his imagined majority( in which you were included) believed differently.

And again I believe if it had been left at your description, then there would have been little dissent within this forum.


Quote
As I passingly indicated to Azdgari, these latest revisions of Davedave's original position are just not accurate.

I am not here to recite Dd's ideas or try to explain them.  What I wrote is my edition.  It may have been inspired from Dd, it may be derived from his original idea, but that does not mean I am whitewashing anything. 

Like Az, I only skimmed that thread.

.......fair enough bloke.


Quote
I would think, that instead of risking changing history (however understandably) by just selectively excluding the perhaps unpalatable chunks of dogma you've both been named as in support of, it would be safer if you and Azdgari just make a  position statement of your own addressing your relative positions regarding  DD's original statements  (not the revised and watered down versions)

What I wrote was a position statement of my own and I gave absolutely no indication that it should be taken otherwise.  I started off with "Let me weigh in...," not, "Let me try to explain what Dd said/meant...".  I understand you may be a bit chaffed.  I would be too.  But don't take it out on me.

my apologies if it appeared that I was taking it out on you screwtape, that was not my intention at all, I only wanted accuracy and clarification.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #40 on: January 26, 2011, 04:54:25 AM »
If it is an independent, middle aged guy who who fears what his parents will think, then he has absolutely no good reason to not do it.  ..... I am prepared to call him a spinelss coward if he drags his feet too much.  Probably even worse.

But for those who actually do exhibit cowardice, like a father who's unwilling to tell his wife and kids that he doesn't believe in mommy's religion, yet come on here and rail against the evils of that same religion, then I believe their behaviour should be called out for what it is:  Cowardly.

Being a private decision does not make it any less of a moral obligation, in my mind.  As with all moral decisions, there are social consequences.  ..... It is a private decision whether to do so, but it still has consequences.  People who cut in line at the grocery store also face some kind of societal correction.  Where does it rate to be an in-the-closet atheist if you really do not have to be?  I do not know, exactly.  I do not think that means he or she should be utterly shunned or forbidden from using the forum.  But I do think there should be some kind of stigma attached to it.  That is how morals are enforced - societal pressure.

Hmmm.  Two people calling me a coward.  In "The Parting of the Ways", the Doctor says "Coward or killer?  Coward, every time."  So yes, in some circumstances, I'll be a coward every time, and I'll wear it with pride.

My parents don't know I'm atheist.  My wife, and my children do.  Everyone at work knows, all my friends know.  There are very few people I come into contact with who don't know.....just my parents.  I see them for a couple hours a week, and they don't interact with any other people I know (apart from wife & kids). 

They are old.  They are frail.  They are ill.  If I told them, they would be extremely upset.   I'm not exagerrating to say that it could - at very least - speed their demise.  At best it would make their last years much sadder.  They wouldn't disown me, I don't even think they would try to convert me back, but they would be incredibly sad.

I mentioned in the "other" thread that to come out to them would cause immense pain to them, with knock-on effects to my immediate family....but with no increase in the overall "good" to the atheist community.  So what good would it do?  Its a case where I can - honestly - only see harm from telling the truth to them.

The point of my story is that I'm sure its not unique.  There may well be others with more good reasons not to tell, others with slightly less.  But I'm not going to judge anyone, not going to tell anyone that their decisions are in any way immoral when there is no immediate harm caused.  That's what religions do. 

I'd absolutely encourage people to come out as and when they are ready.  But there is no way that I would insult someone for not doing so - and I hope I would feel the same even if I were 100% open.  It would be a wonderful world if we were all able to be open all the time.  But it isn't.  And while that may be a good reason for more people to try to be open, it is also a good reason for some people not to be.
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #41 on: January 26, 2011, 09:31:48 AM »
Anfauglir, if you are going to claim that my quote calls you a coward, then I would appreciate it if you explained just how you fit into the category described in my quote.
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Offline Doctor X

Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #42 on: January 26, 2011, 09:51:40 AM »
It's not possible for gays to ever be a majority.

You lack imagination . . .



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Offline Agamemnon

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #43 on: January 26, 2011, 09:54:57 AM »
In some circumstances we do not punish those who violate morals. We make exceptions.

Thanks for the clarification.

Give me an example of a situation where someone would do that and why.

You gave an example of an exception in this very case--when an atheist is financially dependant on relatives or caregivers it is OK for them to hide their atheism.

I disagree with the arm-twisting, butt kicking, etc. I don't think it does anything more than alienate people and cause problems.

I think it depends what is meant by "a little arm twisting".  We may have very different things in mind.  Could you clarify what you mean?

Arm twisting were your words, so you tell me what it means. Since you generally support Davedave's ideas, I assume you mean the kind of verbal abuse that DD is likely to use.

Are you against any and all social pressure to encourage atheists to come out?  If you think some social pressure is acceptable, what are the limits?   

I don't know if I am against any and all social pressure. What kinds of pressure do you propose?

You've said you agree with the strategy of coming out.  How does that strategy get implemented if people refuse to come out?

I agreed with the strategy of providing support and encouragement. Not the strategies of "arm-twisting" or "butt kicking" since I don't know what they entail or how we are to determine when they are necessary, or to what degree we should take them and how to gauge their effectiveness when the atheist has been chased away from the forum.

There is an old sight gag where an army officer is addressing his troops.  He is talking about a dangerous mission and he needs volunteers.  He asks for any volunteers to step forward.  Every one of his soldiers take a step backward, except one sucker.  I don't want to be that sucker.  I don't want anyone to be.  How do we keep that from happening?

It is going to happen, no matter what strategies we have in place, unfortunately. How do we know that "butt kicking" and "arm-twisting" are going to keep that from happening? Or even reduce it?

IMO, the best way to inspire people to courageous acts is for someone else to be a shining example of a courageous person.

Would you have a problem with, say, me voicing my opinion to Atheist Bob - a 35 year old man who is an employed, married, father of two who is currently completely in the closet - that  he should have a conversation with his wife about his position? 

Would it be too far, in your opinion, for me to encourage him to do it?  What if I were to tell him it is his moral obligation to do so?  What if here were to refuse and I told him I don't respect his decision? 

Maybe, it depends on how you voiced your opinions in these conversations. If you were being abusive in that conversation then I'd say you are out of line. You are no longer being supportive and encouraging and I would fully expect Bob to feel alienated and alone by the very people he turned to for support and encouragement.

What I see as being the most effective means of bringing people out are the methods my local FFRF chapter is using, which is completely supportive and encouraging. There is no abuse involved. They have billboard and ad campaigns, speaking engagements and so on. They are boldly standing in the front of the "volunteer" line. I'll gladly stand with them, but not if they are going to abuse me or anyone else.

If I ever saw them being abusive I would withdraw my membership ASAP. I don't want to be a part of an organization that mistreats it's members like that.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #44 on: January 26, 2011, 10:42:59 AM »
Two people calling me a coward.

I really don't think that's a fair or honest statement.  I do not think it shows much respect for me by cherry picking those statements and applying them to your very specific and exceptional case.  You could have asked for clarification to try to understand my position better.  But instead you tried to paint me into a corner.  Poor form.  I'm really disappointed.

If we are going to have an open discussion on the topic, this is not the way to go. 

My parents don't know I'm atheist.  My wife, and my children do.  Everyone at work knows, all my friends know.  There are very few people I come into contact with who don't know.....just my parents.  I see them for a couple hours a week, and they don't interact with any other people I know (apart from wife & kids). 

I consider you to be out for all intents and purposes.   I would also say that there are mitigating circumstances with your parents, if they are as ill and frail as you say.  My statement you quoted was a general case and not to be absolutely applied in all situations, without regard.  I do think some judgment has to be applied.   

You don't fit the bill for what I said anyway.  It is not the case that you simply fear what they think.  You fear the impact it could have on their health.  If that is true, then you are justified. 

But I'm not going to judge anyone, not going to tell anyone that their decisions are in any way immoral when there is no immediate harm caused.  That's what religions do. 

Somehow our modern society has come to value non-judgment as an ideal.  I don't know when, how or why, but we do.  The thing is, we still judge and we should judge. That is how society stays together.  That is how morals are applied.  That is how we protect ourselves from potential threats. 

Maybe you've said this before and I missed it, but let me ask - do you think atheists coming out is an important strategy?  Would you consider it a moral imperative?

As an aside, there should be an internet law, like Godwin's Law or Poe's Law, that has to do with atheists comparing other atheists to religious people. 
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #45 on: January 26, 2011, 11:08:36 AM »
You gave an example of an exception in this very case--when an atheist is financially dependant on relatives or caregivers it is OK for them to hide their atheism.

Ah, I see what you mean now.  I thought you were saying there are cases where there are no real excuses and we let it slide anyway. 

Arm twisting were your words, so you tell me what it means. Since you generally support Davedave's ideas, I assume you mean the kind of verbal abuse that DD is likely to use.

Abuse is not what I had in mind.  More like persistence, peer pressure, badgering.  I don't see that as the mode of first resort either.  I would prefer shining examples and encouragement and support be tried first and be successful. 

I think when people are kicked they tend to leave the social group and seek out one where they find acceptance.  I think you have more influence over an individual when you make them part of the group.  So, accept them into the group, then use various means to convince them to come out.  That's how cults work, right?  And gangs?  They make you feel good and like you belong.  Then, when they ask you to do crazy things, you do them.  All we are asking is for people to tell their families they do not believe in gods.

I agreed with the strategy of providing support and encouragement. Not the strategies of "arm-twisting" or "butt kicking" since I don't know what they entail or how we are to determine when they are necessary, or to what degree we should take them and how to gauge their effectiveness when the atheist has been chased away from the forum.

"butt kicking" can be taken a couple ways.  I was using it more along the lines of what you might do to get your teen off the couch and get a job.  The way you have couched it sounds more like "ass kicking" - what you might do to your teen if you caught him sneaking in at 3 am - and that was not what I intended.

It is going to happen, no matter what strategies we have in place, unfortunately. How do we know that "butt kicking" and "arm-twisting" are going to keep that from happening? Or even reduce it?

Sorry, I should have been more precise.  I know it is going to happen.  How do we minimize it?  I am asking for suggestions, not presenting social pressure as the only way to do it.

IMO, the best way to inspire people to courageous acts is for someone else to be a shining example of a courageous person.

That may be the best way, I don't know.  I am all for shining examples and inspiration.  I am happy for that to be the first or second option.  But that is not going to work for everyone. 



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Offline Agamemnon

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #46 on: January 26, 2011, 12:04:10 PM »
Arm twisting were your words, so you tell me what it means. Since you generally support Davedave's ideas, I assume you mean the kind of verbal abuse that DD is likely to use.

Abuse is not what I had in mind.  More like persistence, peer pressure, badgering.

I am not aware of any of those strategies being used in my local FFRF chapter, yet we seem to be enjoying some success. I don't know exactly what you have in mind, I don't know when and how it should be applied, for what duration, or how effective it will be at getting the results you want versus being counterproductive.

I regard the FFRF example as a default position. I can see the results in the expanding membership and how those members are becoming increasingly vocal and active in the organization. There is no need for peer pressure or badgering because it is working as-is. This as close to a one-size-fits-all approach as you are likely to find and there's no need to worry about whether we are doing more to undermine the cause than to meet our goals. We don't have to worry about alienating our members. It is simple and effective.

If you are saying that your approach is better then you'll need to show something to support that claim, because otherwise I' just going to look at the functioning example I have with my FFRF chapter and conclude that it is the most appropriate model. I look to the leadership there for examples of how to deal with this.

If there is a better model, then I'm all for it, but so far I have not seen a better model.

"butt kicking" can be taken a couple ways.  I was using it more along the lines of what you might do to get your teen off the couch and get a job.  The way you have couched it sounds more like "ass kicking" - what you might do to your teen if you caught him sneaking in at 3 am - and that was not what I intended.

Sorry. I had no way of knowing, so I assumed you had intended it in the way I would expect Davedave to launch an all-out verbal assault.

Sorry, I should have been more precise.  I know it is going to happen.  How do we minimize it?  I am asking for suggestions, not presenting social pressure as the only way to do it.

I don't know if it is possible that can minimize it. We might just have to deal with it.

That may be the best way, I don't know.  I am all for shining examples and inspiration.  I am happy for that to be the first or second option.  But that is not going to work for everyone.

Sometimes we need to be satisfied with the approach that works for most and not worry about trying to make it work for everyone.
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Offline Jim

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #47 on: January 26, 2011, 12:12:46 PM »
^ If you are already a member of a club or organization like FRFF, you have already gotten by a few mental roadblocks.  In fact, for the new atheist, who has no idea of the support available for them, I would suggest joining such an organization as a great first step.  Such an organization can encourage one to come out in a productive manner, while also providing emotional support (and perhaps other kinds as well, such as job search help for someone under a very religious boss).
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #48 on: January 28, 2011, 06:22:31 AM »
Two people calling me a coward......

Anfauglir, if you are going to claim that my quote calls you a coward, then I would appreciate it if you explained just how you fit into the category described in my quote.

I really don't think that's a fair or honest statement.  I do not think it shows much respect for me by cherry picking those statements and applying them to your very specific and exceptional case.  You could have asked for clarification to try to understand my position better.  But instead you tried to paint me into a corner.  Poor form.  I'm really disappointed....
....
....Somehow our modern society has come to value non-judgment as an ideal.  I don't know when, how or why, but we do.  The thing is, we still judge and we should judge. That is how society stays together.  That is how morals are applied.  That is how we protect ourselves from potential threats. 

Maybe you've said this before and I missed it, but let me ask - do you think atheists coming out is an important strategy?  Would you consider it a moral imperative?

Point is, it is all a matter of degree.  It seems neither of you would call me a coward, in my specific circumstances, but would call others cowards when they have, in your perception, less "cause" for reticence than I do.

Maybe its because I've been a Union Rep doing personal cases for years, but I have a particular perspective on this issue.  All kinds of people come to see me, with all kinds of problems.  Sometimes they are overcoming problems that I know would crush me.  Other times the things that are overwhelming them is something that would cause me to barely blink.

But I know that everyone is different in the amount of resources or stamina or willpower or whatever that they can bring to bear on an issue - and that some people do better at dealing with some kinds of pressure than others.  The ex-marine who shows supreme courage under fire may not be able to deal with becoming a single parent, to pick a stereotypical example.

Point being - to answer your question - that no: I will NOT judge anyone for being unable to do something, no matter how much I may feel that thing should be done.  I may feel disappointed, or frustrated....but call someone a coward?  Berate them for their inability?  That I will not do.

For someone who completely has the strength to do something, and refrains for the inconvenience....slightly different case, I agree.  But are those people REALLY going to be coming to this forum?  Railing about the injustices of religion in the world while at the same time not being bothered to do anything themselves?  We get a few, and frankly I ignore them as being trolls rather than anything else.

I have said before, so I repeat:  I would LOVE it if ever atheist felt able to come out.  I would love it if they did.  But not everyone feels they can.  Some may feel unable to right now, but with some time and support may do in future.  But I fear for the future of this group if we push along the route of shunning the waverers.....whatever their reasons for not doing so.  To go back to one of the parallels in the gay community, those who advocated forcibly outing others because they thought them cowards antagonised a lot of the gay community.

One could perhaps say that the ends justified the means, and by their actions the process of gay rights and acceptance was advanced faster than it would otherwise have been.  But at what cost in human collateral damage?

Ultimately, there is only one person that I can ask to make a sacrifice for something I hold dear...and that is me. 

I rather suspect that we probably agree on 99.99% of the whole question.


As an aside, there should be an internet law, like Godwin's Law or Poe's Law, that has to do with atheists comparing other atheists to religious people.

Maybe.....but your statements appeared to be saying "I believe this....if you do not I will insult you and treat you badly".  For centuries that IS what the worst excesses of religions have done, and I have no desire to see that mentality enter into the "atheist community"....whatever that may be.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #49 on: January 28, 2011, 10:53:14 PM »
As an aside, there should be an internet law, like Godwin's Law or Poe's Law, that has to do with atheists comparing other atheists to religious people.

That was me, not Az.

And I think we do agree on almost all of it.

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Offline screwtape

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #50 on: January 29, 2011, 12:06:43 AM »
I am not aware of any of those strategies being used in my local FFRF chapter,

We're not the FFRF.  I'm not saying they are doing it wrong.  I'm saying we are not them.  They are an organization with a specific goal and a limited set of behavioral options.  When I talk about us, I mean the atheist community at large.  Individuals.  Not wwgha.  So comparing the two is apples and oranges.  Communities and individuals behave very differently than advocacy groups.

If you are saying that your approach is better then you'll need to show something to support that claim,

I'm not saying it's better.  I am saying different people need different approaches.  Not everyone is motivated the same way.  And people who make up a community have different coercive options than an advocacy group.

And 2,000 years of parenting isn't enough to show efficacy?  A little guilt, a little nagging, a little "goddammit, get off your duff already."  I could also site the Army.  It worked great for them for, I dunno, how long have armies used discipline?  But that is another organization we are not.

Sorry. I had no way of knowing, so I assumed you had intended it in the way I would expect Davedave to launch an all-out verbal assault.

Apology accepted but not necessary.  This is an inherently difficult medium for communication, despite that being its primary purpose.  But there is also an apparent perception problem here - mine, yours, and probably lots of others.  I don't see myself as Dd-like or abusive.  I like him and I agree with some of the things he says, but that does not make us clones.  I have a hard time understanding why anyone would assume I would be advocating abuse.  Maybe I am not paying enough attention to how I sound.  Maybe other people are not paying enough attention to what I am saying.  Nothing there for you to respond to.  Just an observation.

I don't know if it is possible that can minimize it. We might just have to deal with it.

I don't think you mean, "deal with it."  To deal with something is to address it, to take care of it, to be proactive in solving it.  What you are saying is the opposite.  You are saying we should not/ cannot address it, or that we should ignore it.  We should just pretend there isn't a problem with people who are pretending there isn't a problem.  I see the symmetry to it, but I think that is a bad approach. 

I don't know if it is possible either, but I think it is and I am willing to try. 

Sometimes we need to be satisfied with the approach that works for most and not worry about trying to make it work for everyone.

I cannot disagree more.  That is complacent and I do not accept that.  You are shrugging your shoulders and giving up without trying.  We have to do everything we can to get as many people as we can because there are not that many of us to begin with.  Sometimes we have to instill a sense of urgency in people.   



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Offline Jeff7

Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #51 on: January 30, 2011, 09:25:56 PM »
Hm.

As not being, uh, currently 'out' myself, reading this thread (and the one it came off from) has been of great interest. Especially when I realize the exact reason of why I have not revealed my position to anyone, and it does boil down to little more than simple cowardice. The fun part, of course, is what to do about that?

For some perspective, a basic summarization of my position: 20, college, dependent (although working away from that steadily at this point) on the folks who are religious, but are personally the type who I don't think would drop me or anything from their lives. Wounded, yes, but able to accept in the end.

Yet, I find it difficult to admit it. Essentially all my friends are very much believing Christians, who I wish I could say I knew their responses. The girl I very much love and care for (who, apparently, God told her that we'd end up married..) has essentially made it clear the schism that would come forth from that sort of decision/proclamation. Yeah.

Those are the things I fear. All very much, especially at this moment of my life, things that are conquerable. In the end, my folks would accept, I think - the friendships worth keeping would last while allowing me to forge new ones in the opportunities afterwards.

Personally, I think the big thing to realize is you just simply can't apply some sort of simple process or blanket statement to all cases. Yes, in some cases, a kick to the butt is certainly needed and probably the best course of action. (My own comes to thought.) In some cases, it may not be the best thing, and could very well in fact push someone the opposite way. Perhaps there is no best method in some individual cases. There's more than one angle to any scene, afterall. screwtape, I think, is right - you may not be able to find the method that works for everyone, the solution to the problem, but you have to try.

As for me - this line of discussion has made me really stop and think. I am, truthfully, disgusted at my own fear and unwillingness to step forward. Of just how paralyzed and controlled by it I've ultimately become. The few attempts I made at trying to work towards the goal of ousting myself, I now realize as nothing more than stalling measures, desperate attempts to buy myself time so as not to face facts. 'Tis time, I think, to get over myself and take the plunge.

Offline Gnu Ordure

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #52 on: January 30, 2011, 10:27:24 PM »
Hi Jeff,

That's a sad tale.

The bottom line is that some people will continue to love you in spite of your coming out, whereas others will reject you because of it.

You have no control over any of them. As someone said, You can't make anyone love you. They either will, or they won't.

So, in the long run, you might as well be yourself, as much as you can. Then, if someone does love you, it'll be because of who you are.

It sounds like your folks will get over it, some of your friends too. Shame about your girl - but if she's determined to share her life only with someone who shares her beliefs, then that's her call.

Now that you've broached the subject with us, why don't you start a thread about it? Discussing one's fears tends to reduce them - and I'm sure people will offer strategic advice on how to go about telling people, if that's what you want to do.

Gnu.

PS Don't worry about being afraid. I'd say that fear would be normal in your situation. And everybody's afraid sometimes - it's part of the human condition.

PPS Virtual +1 for your post. (You were brave to post it  ;)).
« Last Edit: January 30, 2011, 10:32:52 PM by Gnu Ordure »

Offline Jim

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #53 on: January 30, 2011, 10:33:31 PM »
As not being, uh, currently 'out' myself, reading this thread (and the one it came off from) has been of great interest. Especially when I realize the exact reason of why I have not revealed my position to anyone, and it does boil down to little more than simple cowardice. The fun part, of course, is what to do about that?

For some perspective, a basic summarization of my position: 20, college, dependent (although working away from that steadily at this point) on the folks who are religious, but are personally the type who I don't think would drop me or anything from their lives. Wounded, yes, but able to accept in the end....

Welcome to the forum.

While some might want to push you out into the light of exposure, not all of us have such a monotonous sense of sight on this issue.  You'll find the method(s) that work best for you.

Congratulations on taking that first step!
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Offline RaymondKHessel

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #54 on: January 31, 2011, 12:39:27 AM »
@ Jeff -

Dude, don't be so impressionable. f**k these people! In the most intimate and caring and gentle way possible of course, 'cos I love and respect them oodles lol  :P. But we're just clumps of text on the internet. Don't beat up on yourself because of anything you read here. You've got plenty of reason to keep your godless heathen ways on the D.L. in my book.

s**t, what better reason do you need than to A.)Keep your financial situation above water B.)Maintain a little peace with the parents and C.)Keep LOVE around???

Unless you're the type cat who's constantly feeling repressed by not broadcasting your atheism to anyone in earshot, or unless you're surrounded by Fundies day in and day out making you sing and dance for Zombie Jesus against your will, what's the rush in unloading 6 chambers of godless on the people who care about you?

Seriously. Unless you feel so put-upon to "come out" that it's making a constant negative impact on your life, who cares? Is it "the principle of the thing"? If so, there are plenty of other atheists out there speaking out against religion who can do so without fucking their lives up flatter then hammered s**t, and I think it's okay to let them handle it if you don't have the same luxury. And there's certainly nothing stopping you from "coming out" to the billions of people on Earth who *aren't* such important parts of your life, you know.

Of course you naturally want to be able to "be yourself" around the people you care about. Maybe you even really feel passionate about "enlightening" them to the Truths you've discovered, or maybe you hate the idea of them being taken in by the scam.

That's all very understandable. But you need to stop, and realistically assess the chances of YOUR position making any difference at all in what they believe or WANT to believe, and wrap your head around the fact that if you can't personally save them from their own ignorance, it's not your fault, it's not the end of the world, and you don't need to destroy perfectly loving relationships for the sake of an unwinnable war.

If you just can't live with yourself being non-confrontational with your loved ones on this one subject, that sucks, but there ARE ways to deal with these situations that are more elegant and graceful then others. Take your time with it, for one thing. Nobody's going to respond well if you just up and say one day "Oh, figgidy-f**k your baby-killing monster of a god." or something similar. At least not people that care about you. They're going to feel personally hurt by it, like a betrayal of sorts, and that's not good for anybody. 

With your girl, just avoid the subject altogether as often as possible. I assume she's close to your age - so give her a little time to ripen on the vine. No offense, but you're both still pretty young, and a lot of girls her age still operate on a primarily emotional basis when it comes to relationships... Plus she probably hasn't done much critical thinking on the subject at this point in her life.

But if you're with her long enough for you both to mature a bit, long enough for her to grow a little intellectually and maybe learn a little more about the way the world as we know it actually works (perhaps gently guided to good secular material by you loving and molest-y hands)there will come a time when you can have civil, adult conversations about your differing beliefs and it won't send her immediately screaming for the hills with those deeply-ingrained superstituous knee-jerk reactions.

Assuming she matures, of course. Some ladies will always let their emotional instincts dominate the state of their relationships no matter what, and other ladies will simply never care to learn anything substantial about the world they live in. If that's the case, reaching a point of mutual understanding will take much longer if it happens at all. If she's a serious god-squader, and your atheism means that much to you, and all the stars are mis-aligned and against you, well, s**t. You'll have a whole mess of problems on your hands that will probably end your relationship permaturely anyway.

That's my advice, at any rate, at least when it comes to the girl. Just keep it low-key and take it a day at a time. She'll come around as long as she never has to feel like she has to choose you or her god. Don't give her that ultimatum and you should be fine.

As for your parents... Hell dude. They're your parents. It's not like you're around them 24/7 anymore, so it's not that hard to just avoid the subject if you want, and it's not like they're likely to be swayed by their child's worldview no matter WHAT it is... Assuming they're anything like most parents of course. You're the KID. And you always will be to them.
 
I gotta be honest, this whole Noble Atheist Warrior ideal of "coming out" for the sake of it, to anyone and everyone who will listen, and hang the consequences, is quite silly to me. I mean firstly, it's a mighty big assumption that anyone gives a flying f**k what your belief or lack of belief is one way or the other. At the risk of damage to the ego, most people just aren't going to care... Unless you're a celebrity or something.

For us normal folks, blasting complete strangers with atheist rhetoric unsolicited, just to make your "voice" heard or "be counted", is exactly the kind of thing that gets atheists a reputation for being "preachy" or "overbaring". You don't need to say "I DON'T BELIEVE IN YOUR STUPID GOD!" and launch into a tirade every time somebody says "God Bless You" after you sneeze, for example.

 People are much more likely to focus on the fact that you came off like an a**hole than whether or not you were right or wrong in your one-man arguement. They won't walk away from you going "Wow, that guy had some good points!" or "Golly-gee, he sure made me feel silly!"

They're going to walk away going "Wow. What a loud-mouthed dick that guy was! Like I wanted his fucking opinion!? Who asked!? f**k him!"  You'll actually do damage to "the cause" at that point. 

You might WANT to go off on every utterance of theological idiocy, sure! I know *I* certainly do! But you gotta pick your battles. You need to determine if it's going to have anything resembling a positive effect instead of just doing it instinctively or because you think it might feel good. To be effective, we need bunker-busting surgical strikes, or a good game of nuclear wack-a-mole, not blindfolded carpet-bombing runs .
 
2nd, we're talking about keeping a *LACK* of belief to yourself here, aren't we? Not a belief! It's really a response to what other people are doing and saying, not a statement! And you're not the only one out there who doesn't believe. So I say hell yes, pick your battles! Don't just open your mouth and start killing people's gods simply because you feel some sort of existential obligation or duty to. You're not the Great Atheist Hope.

When I say pick your battles, I don't just mean you should put thought into when and where you decide to engage somebody on the subject... If you can, you want to be able to choose the battlefield as well. And the weather. And the level of engagement. ESPECIALLY with people who are close to you. When your girl says "Oh, god was working to bring us together yay!", you don't need to go s**t in her hat and say "I don't believe you, and I think you're wrong in imagining that." if you care about her.

Just say "Wow, that's a really nice thought." Or say "I don't know about god, but I'm thrilled to have you in my life even if it was fish-flavored cheese that brought us together, my little Lamby-toes." if you really feel the need to make your viewpoint known. She'll get the point provided she ain't thick as a brick, and more than likely *SHE* will bring up the subject voluntarily if you can manage to be appopriately unaffected or ambivilent to her magical musings, because she'll be itching to know how you can be so cool about it.

Look, I'm all for being vocal, for outing the retardation of superstitious belief whenever possible, for people standing up and not being afraid or ashamed to say "I DON'T BELIEVE YOU." But you only get so many people in life to care about you, to care for you, to love you, and if perforating THEIR particular beliefs is going to be hurtful to your relationship, I ask, why the hell would you do it?

What are the possible gains, compared to the possible losses? I understand wanting your loved ones to not be subject to the shittiness of religion, absolutely. And if you think you have a shot of pulling them away from it, sure! Give it a shot! But if you KNOW in advance that it's not going to make ANYTHING better, and in fact will likely make things worse or much worse, I think you'd have to be either insanely self-rightous or unbelievably masochistic to damage an otherwise good relationship for the sake of getting something so ultimately useless "out in the open".

"The Cause" just doesn't need lil' ol' you THAT badly, that you need to be self-destructive or be a martyr for it, or even shoulder GUILT of all things for not doing so. There are plenty of atheists out there to carry the torch, and more every day, and like I said, in 99% of our dealings with religious people, we're ALL free to take a stand wherever and however we like. But see, you're not alone in this, and you don't have to single handedly bring logic and reason to the Jesus-ly masses AT ANY COST. That 1% of religiosity you might choose to tolerate in order to better your life will certainly be covered by all the rest of us doing our thing, since our 99% is almost guaranteed to include your 1%.

Youngblood, at the end of the day, you gotta live your life for you and the people you care about, and be happy with it first and foremost, otherwise what the f**k's the point?

« Last Edit: January 31, 2011, 01:43:18 AM by RaymondKHessel »
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Offline Jeff7

Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #55 on: January 31, 2011, 01:37:11 AM »
Oh, gosh, no. I'm not coming out for any sort of cause or anything like that - not trying to be a martyr or anything like that. Fuck, no.  Hah, apologies if I came out that way, As to the others around me believing, I have no qualms with that either, nor do I want to go about tearing them from it. Sure, if they want to discuss it, then I'd be happy to engage them on the subject. No matter belief, in the last few months I've found my (barely scratching the surface of) theology absolutely fascinating. I'm not setting out with the purpose of trying to get people to leave their faith as well, or to even doubt. (Now, thinking? Thinking is a challenge I'll accept.)

Nor am I going to go around to everyone and know "RAAR I'm a godless baby eating monster now!" or something like that. All I want, as you put it in one of your smaller paragraphs, is just to be myself. That's it. Doing so, though, would involve coming out to some degree, with several motions I'm simply going through that need to end. No, I'm not at all talking about becoming some radical militant atheist or something, but simply smaller changes that would likely show up.

Picking your battles is also plenty ideal, too, and I'm well aware of such a wisdom, don't you worry. ;) As for the girl.. she does indeed, mean that much to me, beliefs or otherwise. But at the same time, I'm not going to lie to her by omission, either, especially when she's going to figure it out and eventually be hurt. No, I'd much rather pick that battle, so to say, as a calm, mature conversation. That's the idea, anyways. Faith is very important - both her own and those around her. I'll leave myself open, and for her to decide, once she knows the score, of where to go from there. Hopefully we can work it together, eh? I know I'm willing.

In the end, I guess, don't worry about me. :P I'm no darn fool who hasn't thought this out. I just want to get past my fears and just ... be. I don't want to be afraid of that part of who I am now to leak out (or for someone to piece things together) and suddenly everything blows up in my face. No, the crowd I'm with will figure it out eventually - I want to fight the battles I want to fight on my ground. But the big thing is going out there and actually doing it, yeah?

Offline RaymondKHessel

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #56 on: January 31, 2011, 01:48:54 AM »
Oh, gosh, no. I'm not coming out for any sort of cause or anything like that - not trying to be a martyr or anything like that. f**k, no.  Hah, apologies if I came out that way,

Nah, you didn't at all. That part, and the rest of my rant following that part, was pretty much aimed at anybody in general regarding the whole "Coming Out" topic. 


You seem to have your head on straight homey. I'm sure you'll be fine.  ;)

edit: Well, I think you'll be fine if you don't go around saying things like "Oh gosh." a whole bunch.  :P

Yeah yeah, I know I said "Golly-Gee"... But I have a permit to talk like the Beave when I'm being silly. I'm also allowed to use the entire lexicon of the 1920's. You gotta shell out a whole mess o' clams for the processing, but it's super swell to be able to say "Jeepers but that dame's got one spiffy chassis! It's the keenest!"   8)
« Last Edit: January 31, 2011, 02:08:34 AM by RaymondKHessel »
Born with insight, and a raised fist.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
« Reply #57 on: January 31, 2011, 10:08:07 AM »
Ray, why are you going out of your way to misrepresent the views of those with whom you supposedly disagree in this thread?
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