whywontgodhealamputees.com

Community Zone => Groups, Events, & Activism => Topic started by: Seppuku on January 22, 2011, 06:11:09 AM

Title: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Seppuku 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.
Title: Re: Re: Who Chased L6 Out And What Are We Prepared To Do To Get Him Back?
Post by: Azdgari 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...
Title: Re: Re: Who Chased L6 Out And What Are We Prepared To Do To Get Him Back?
Post by: Seppuku 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.
Title: Re: Re: Who Chased L6 Out And What Are We Prepared To Do To Get Him Back?
Post by: kin hell 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.



Joan Fontaine said it beautifully

Dressed in the lion's skin, the ass spread terror far and wide.

Title: Re: Re: Who Chased L6 Out And What Are We Prepared To Do To Get Him Back?
Post by: Jim 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.
Title: Re: Re: Who Chased L6 Out And What Are We Prepared To Do To Get Him Back?
Post by: Azdgari 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.
Title: Re: Re: Who Chased L6 Out And What Are We Prepared To Do To Get Him Back?
Post by: L6 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Azdgari 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?
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Bereft_of_Faith 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. 
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Azdgari 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Bereft_of_Faith 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.

Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Azdgari 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Bereft_of_Faith 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.


Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Azdgari 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Bereft_of_Faith 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Seppuku 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Bereft_of_Faith 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. 
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: kin hell 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?
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: pingnak 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.)

Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Seppuku 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Paperbackslave 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.

Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Seppuku 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Paperbackslave 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!
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Anfauglir 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Agamemnon 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: screwtape 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.



Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: L6 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?
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Agamemnon 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?
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: L6 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Agamemnon 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: screwtape 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.

Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: kin hell 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)


 




Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Azdgari 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Azdgari 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: kin hell 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: L6 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. :)
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: screwtape 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.

Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Agamemnon 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: screwtape 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. 

Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: kin hell 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Anfauglir 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Azdgari 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Doctor X on January 26, 2011, 09:51:40 AM
It's not possible for gays to ever be a majority.

You lack imagination . . .

(http://sfatshirts.com/pictures/gay%202.gif)

Rumors have it they have not ceased enriching uranium . . . (http://i170.photobucket.com/albums/u264/DoctorX_photos/Smilies/freakingout.gif)

--J.D.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Agamemnon 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: screwtape 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. 
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: screwtape 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. 



Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Agamemnon 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Jim 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).
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Anfauglir 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: screwtape 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.

Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: screwtape 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.   



Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Jeff7 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.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Gnu Ordure 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  ;)).
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Jim 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!
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: RaymondKHessel 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?

Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Jeff7 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?
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: RaymondKHessel 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)
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Azdgari 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?
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: RaymondKHessel on January 31, 2011, 06:15:27 PM
Ray, why are you going out of your way to misrepresent the views of those with whom you supposedly disagree in this thread?

I didn't realize I was!  :o

Who are we talking about?

There was certainly nobody in particular I was thinking of... At least I *think* there was nobody in particular I was thinking of... Aside from maybe a guy I know IRL, but he's a douchebag and pretty much a hard-line millitant in EVERYTHING he does, down to how food should be prepared (no joke - the guy's a fucking DRAG). But I don't even think I was specifically thinking of him, 'cos he's a pretty weird-o exception and not a very good example of a standard.

I was mostly just ranting about the standard "SAY IT LOUD, SAY IT PROUD, WHO CARES WHO'S IN THE CROWD" mantra I've heard encouraged before, because there ARE people who encourage that s**t. But it's not just about atheism, really. If you endorse or support pretty much any socially frowned-on taboo, I think it's wise to pick your battles and take a little care with who you present your so called "radical" ideas to.

I dunno. I think it's pretty solid advice.

Who was I apparently disagreeing with, specifically? I didn't particularly notice. The misunderstanding I read earlier in the thread is what put the thought in my mind - because there ARE people out there who are that hard-line on these things. Obvious to anyone reading, I assumed, that wasn't the case here.

But I'd be happy to apologize though if somebody feels I was taking shots at them...? Wasn't intentional. Anyone can check my post history; if I'm directly targeting somebody, I either quote them or speak to them directly. <shrug> I'm certainly not the type to confront somebody INDIRECTLY if I disagree with them lol.

So yeah - I'm a little weirded out now... But sincerely, apologies to anyone who thought I was thinking of them when I thought what I thunk earlier? I think I can safely say, whoever you might be, that I wasn't thinking of you at the time!   
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Azdgari on January 31, 2011, 06:52:09 PM
I had assumed that your 'rant' was meant to be topical to the thread.  Since it was not, I will ignore it.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: RaymondKHessel on January 31, 2011, 07:16:07 PM
I had assumed that your 'rant' was meant to be topical to the thread.  Since it was not, I will ignore it.

Feel free! But I thought it WAS topical, to the point of the topic of "Coming out".

Hence a rant about how I think it's best *not* to do such a thing...?

Should I... not have done that?

As Jeff had expressed guilt about not "coming out", I felt compelled to address that as well. Firstly, in fact...

Now I'm doubly weirded out. What we have here, is a failure to communicate.

Who were you talking about Azdgari? Who exactly was I/am I arguing against? Help me out here. Was it you? I only ask because... I dunno, it seems like you're prepping to go on the defensive, and I really don't know why. Did I offend you somehow? If so, I apologize man. Sincerely. Clear this up for me please, because I don't want any ill-will, and I certainly don't want you thinking I was taking cheap shots at you!  :(

Unless... I guess unless you DO take the kind of hard-line stance I'm talking about on the issue... Which from your earlier post, I never really assumed that you did... If I'm mistaken, I'd be happy to debate it with you I suppose, or whoever, but if I'm looking at taking the subject matter of a rant and aiming it at an individual's view on the subject in particular, I need to know who or what I'm supposed to be shooting at, so that at least I can make an attempt to refine and personalize what it is I'm saying.   
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: Azdgari on January 31, 2011, 07:41:42 PM
Your rant was not about "coming out", it was about being an asshole about one's atheism and how that's a bad thing.  You characterized the whole "coming out" thing in terms of atheists going around badgering people about their beliefs.

Since this was clarified not to be the case at several points in the thread, I can only take your attempt to demonize the "coming out" movement in those terms as deliberate.

Yes, this has put me on the defensive.  You basically told Jeff7, pre-emptively, not to listen to those of us who are for a broad "coming out" because we advocate the sort of crap you outlined in your post.  What can anyone reasonably say to that, other than to point out the misrepresentation?
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: RaymondKHessel on January 31, 2011, 08:42:35 PM
Your rant was not about "coming out", it was about being an a**hole about one's atheism and how that's a bad thing.  You characterized the whole "coming out" thing in terms of atheists going around badgering people about their beliefs.


Well, no, I didn't. I characterized a very small *piece* of the *whole* "coming out" thing. "Coming out" is great. I said that. I also said I encourage it whenever it's appropriate and/or can actually produce some sort of positive result.

But, I said, and this is where the small minority *piece* of the *whole* comes in, there are times and situations where it's probably not always a great idea. Such as if it would irreversably damage an otherwise healthy personal relationship for no substantial purpose, or if the person you're talking to simply never asked for your opinion on the subject and isn't interested in what you have to say, or if the time and place isn't suitable to such a discussion (such as a "God Bless You" sneeze blessing that somebody gives in passing)

As far as being an a**hole... Christ man, who are you talking to? I obviously have no problem being an a**hole about MY atheism if I think the situation calls for it. But, and this was my point about assholes in my earlier post, I don't think it's a good thing to ineffectively be *PERCEIVED* as nothing more than a preachy a**hole by somebody who, for whatever reason, just isn't going to listen to what you're saying.

Tons of people simply don't care about religion, or about anybody's differing opinions on it. Just like tons of people simply don't care about politics, or saving the whales, or how bad red meat is for you, or American Idol, or your differing opinions about them. And when you go on unsolicited tirades about things people don't care to hear about, didn't ask for your opinion on, and have no interest in discussing with you, they're usually going to walk away thinking you're a preachy d-bag, no matter how good your case is. And you accomplished nothing positive in those situations.

This is what I sad was "bad". Or at least, not good. Hence, "pick your battles".

It's the difference between talking AT somebody, and talking WITH somebody.

Since this was clarified not to be the case at several points in the thread, I can only take your attempt to demonize the "coming out" movement in those terms as deliberate.

You're reading what you want to read, apparently. At no point, anywhere, ever, did I demonize the "coming out" movement. I demonized ineffectually ejaculating atheist rhetoric to people who, for whatever reason, are flat-out not going to be in any way receptive to it, for the sake of feeling good about yourself or the idealism of "being counted".

"Being counted" is great, wonderful, super swell... And I think it's an important endeavor. EXCEPT when the person you're talking *at* doesn't keep count of whatever it is that you're proclaiming. In that case, it is a useless expendature of energies that could be focused elsewhere, and in fact, being indiscriminate about where you point your mouth is potentially harmfull to whatever cause it is you're inclined to be a voice of.

Yes, this has put me on the defensive.  You basically told Jeff7, pre-emptively, not to listen to those of us who are for a broad "coming out" because we advocate the sort of crap you outlined in your post.  What can anyone reasonably say to that, other than to point out the misrepresentation?

No, what I told Jeff is, "Don't martyr your personal life for a cause that can make do just fine without your martyrdom, as there are plenty of people capable of fighting the good fight WITHOUT jeapordizing their finances, family life, or love life."

Because he clearly stated his concern that those people would NOT be receptive to such a thing.

I then went on to say, you can still do good for "the cause", if that's your thing, by "coming out" to the other 99% of the population who is NOT an intrinsic and valued part of your personal life, and do almost exactly as much good for rationality and critical thought. From where I'm sitting, 99% of the population is pretty fuckin' "broad".

I'm pretty sure I know what I said. I'm the guy who typed it. I think you're connecting dots that simply aren't there man. For what purpose, I have no idea. But again, I apologize. It was not my intention to get yer hackles up, and I'm sorry you've misinterpreted what I was saying as some sort of spray-and-pray attack on the "whole" "coming out movement".

<shrug> Because I did no such thing. And them's the facts, Jack.
Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: L6 on February 02, 2011, 12:39:02 PM
Timely podcast from The Thinking Atheist, somewhat relevant to this thread:

"Facebook Feuds, Faith & Facepalms"
Facebook Feuds, Faith & Facepalms- The Thinking Atheist Podcast #15 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_IxDk6FrC4#)

Title: Re: Atheists who desire to come out and how to best support them
Post by: monkeymind on February 02, 2011, 12:56:28 PM
Interesting...this very same Messsage From God was posted on my FB by a relative and I slammed them over it! It was my 6%.