Reader's View: Be open-minded when atheist comes out
Many closeted atheists don't seek to talk about their position with their family because of the stigma surrounding us.
Going from believing to not believing can be a difficult thing for a person to do, especially if that individual comes from a very religious family. Often they are rejected, guilted into going to church, looked down upon, or even “kicked out” because of it. When I’ve asked people I know are atheists what they would've liked to have seen from the community at large, it boiled down to solidarity, acceptance, kindness, and compassion, in particular from the very family members, friends, and neighbors repulsed by their newfound atheism.
Many closeted atheists don't seek to talk about their position with their family because of the stigma surrounding us. Certainly, not all families stigmatize atheists, but it is still a pervasive idea that we're all “bad people” and have “no morals.” Pew Research certainly backs this up with a 2019 poll that showed atheists and Muslims are tied for “feeling coldest toward.” To read another way: feeling less favorably toward.
This isn't a blame of persecution (though we tend to be persecuted); this is a call for acceptance. Is it not better to accept family and friends who are simply different on one subject than to disregard their humanity as immoral? Chances are, they have been an atheist for quite some time — and without your knowledge. They were the same as a day prior to telling you. Your child may very well be an atheist, and that makes them no worse (or better) than they were before you knew. But it may make your relationship worse depending on your reaction.
The writer is founder of Twin Ports Humanists.
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