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To What Degree Are You "out"?


DesertBob
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I now fully self-identify as an atheist rather than being content with the relatively euphemistic "agnostic". So far I've gotten by with a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. What's left of my evangelical family is particularly good at this game. *I* assume that *they* assume I'm a backslider and no questions are ever asked. If they ever asked me directly I would shock them with the truth but somehow I don't think it'll ever happen. I've "come out" to my youngest brother, who can handle it, and my two grown children are atheists. My fiancee and her kids are agnostics and atheists all. So on the family front I have nothing to complain about.

 

So the only area of my life where I really find myself skulking about is my professional life. I'm a software developer. You'd think that wouldn't be much of a problem, as empirical as techies tend to be, but the problem is with my clients and an important minority of my colleagues. One of the key marketing people I need to get along with is an arch-conservative, one of my subcontractors is a devout Catholic, and top management at my main client are basically standard button-down types who probably are at least conventionally religious. The good news in all this is that discussion virtually never veers into private beliefs, but I still find it annoying that I can't join the local Atheist meetup or function online without a good smattering of circumspection and aliases, lest I give people needless pause.

 

That said, I'm not interested in, say, broadcasting my beliefs on FaceBook, simply because it's TMI, people can't handle the truth, and it's really no one's business but mine anyway. But, I'm curious if anyone has been publicly outed -- our outed themselves -- as atheist in a work setting and how that has played out for you and how you've handled it. Because even if I am content with a low profile, sooner or later the topic will come up and I don't intend to lie about it if that happens.

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Back in Australia everyone but my mother know's I'm an atheist. I see no reason to stress her out and its a long story I won't get into why.

All my work colleagues knew. My friends knew and many of them are atheists themselves who also were "out".

Back there its different. No one cares and no one treats you differently unless you are somehow part of a very religious community but I wasn't.

I did a lot of contract work that took me all over the country. Never did I find it an issue.

 

I don't really know many people at all now that I've moved to the USA so its not a factor.

 

In any case, its your personal opinions just like religion is a personal choice.

Its none of anyone else's business anymore than it would be to have my medical records made public if I didn't want them to be.

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First of all, don't bring it into your professional life if you don't need to. I would also say not to outright hide it either. Hell, a quick search on facebook will reveal that I am Wiccan. If anyone asks me what religion I follow I will tell them honestly and without pause. This happened at work a few weeks ago. Since then I have had to answer many questions about my religion, often with the first one is "So, uh, I heard a rumor about you..." "Yeah?" "Yeah, I heard you were Wiccan." "I am" [insert 20+ minutes of answering questions with the inevitable endings of] "Well, whatever you believe." or "Hey, that's cool. I don't really care, I just never heard of it before."

 

Don't know if the same thing goes for atheism or not...

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I see no benefit at this moment in prostelthysing my lack of supernatural belief, there is nothing to be gained of it. My wife knows and she has conveyed it to her sister since they're very close. If anyone asks I'll tell them the straight up truth. I thought my dad was going to bring it up weekend before last. We were hanging in my backyard watching the kids play and he mentioned (for the ump-teenth time) how disenchanted he is with church service. It's getting too conservative, too anti-gay, etc. He's always gone just to listen to a nice sermon, hear a couple funny clean jokes, and have "community". I basically said something like he has to decide what's important to him and what he wants out of the church experience. My dad is and has always been a pew warmer. The only time I ever hear 'Jesus' mentioned in our house was during a tyrade of blasphemy when the Cards were losing :thanks: . I gave him every opportunity to walk through the door and discuss both of our beliefs, but it never happened.

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Don't know if the same thing goes for atheism or not...

Not. Atheists are the most mistrusted and hated group in this here Christian States of America. No contest.

 

For example:

 

My link

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Don't know if the same thing goes for atheism or not...

 

 

Pretty sure that the only thing worse than an Atheist is a Satanist...although I'm sure many christians think the two are the same.

 

 

 

The only people that accept Satanists are other Satanists. Atheists don't even have it that bad.

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I've been outed at work twice; one in the classroom, once in Scholars Bowl.

 

About six years ago, a son of a former co-worker of mine loudly announced in class "Mr. R, my dad says you were an atheist. Are you an atheist?"

 

I said "It's really no one's business, but I have no supernatural beliefs." I only answered because I know a Christian would have done so, and I saw no reason I could not do the same. It was liberating, and the kids were silent for a moment until one student quietly said "You just be who you are, Mr. R. This is America."

 

My co-sponsor outed me in Scholars Bowl a couple of weeks ago, saying something like "Ask Mr. R.; he's an atheist, you know." The kids thought that was cool, since one of them was an atheist and the others had never met an adult atheist so they were digging the novelty of it. These kids tend to be more open=minded than the student body at large. I teach in a very religious, very conservative community.

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Not. Atheists are the most mistrusted and hated group in this here Christian States of America. No contest.

Yes, and I'm in the midwestern Bible belt, a bit too far from Chicago for it to do me much good in the eclecticism department. This is the land of Bingo and the Rotary club. Plus my market reach is basically nationwide. If my personal and professional life were confined to someplace like Chicago, New York, LA or San Francisco I could afford to be a lot less circumspect.

 

It sounds like you all handle it about the same I do -- I don't flaunt it or provoke people but when asked point blank I won't hide it, either.

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Don't know if the same thing goes for atheism or not...

Not. Atheists are the most mistrusted and hated group in this here Christian States of America. No contest.

 

For example:

 

My link

 

I wonder what happens if you exclude the south from these polls though. I wasn't aware of any hatred toward atheists until it was brought to my attention on this site.

 

Growing up, I heard lots of sermons on the evils of homosexuality, but not one focused on atheism. Unbelievers were pretty much lumped into the goat category and, again, gays aside, we weren't taught or encouraged to hate or fear them.

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I told a co-worker of my atheism as it came up in the natural course of our conversation one day in the break room. This was just a few weeks into my employment there and my co-worker also told me he too was an atheist. Not an ex-c, but, (lucky bastard!) a never-C!

 

I've been told that several of my co-workers are atheists (all software developers), but it has never come up in conversation except maybe two or three times over the course of three years.

 

However, during a Christmas lunch during my second Christmas season there (at the owner's house of all places), this co-worker practically shouts to another senior developer, "Scott used to be a fundamentalist preacher! Now he's an atheist!"

 

So, potentially , I was outed to the entire company all at once if they were all listening to my co-worker.

 

I am not aware of any negative consequences of that outing. However, I don't emphasize it. I think recently I told someone at the office that it was the burden of proof on the theist to prove there is a god and not the other way around. But typically such issues are never raised and I make a point not to discuss religion or politics at the office unless someone else brings it up and solicits my views.

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Not. Atheists are the most mistrusted and hated group in this here Christian States of America. No contest.

Yes, and I'm in the midwestern Bible belt, a bit too far from Chicago for it to do me much good in the eclecticism department. This is the land of Bingo and the Rotary club. Plus my market reach is basically nationwide. If my personal and professional life were confined to someplace like Chicago, New York, LA or San Francisco I could afford to be a lot less circumspect.

 

It sounds like you all handle it about the same I do -- I don't flaunt it or provoke people but when asked point blank I won't hide it, either.

 

Hey, if you ever happen through Logan County in Ohio, feel free to look me up. I doubt you will ever get there though. I guess I do have an advantage with other peoples opinions, though, for the most part no one 'round these hurr perts has ever even heard of Wicca. Almoast everyone knows what Atheism is.

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I have not outed myself to my parents since I am still financially dependent upon them but I have to my cousins. I only tell people that I casually interact with only if they ask or the subject comes up, which is hardly ever, but I would pretty much remain mum about it in the workplace since I live in Tennessee.

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Most people are aware that I'm an atheist but I generally have a lot of "street cred" as they're also aware that I was studying to be a minister. One of my co-workers is somewhat religious and got worked up over one of my other co-workers telling me that he is interested in Buddhism and if I knew anything about it. He was like "HOW CAN U NO BELIEVE IN JAY-ZUS111!!!1oNE!!"

 

Other than that, I have one other co-worker who is Christian but a real reserved type and my boss and other two co-workers are self identified "agnostics". I am at the brunt of some jokes on occasion though, but it's good natured fun. All in all, I find myself getting more and more private about my beliefs and I would have rathered people not knowing, even if there are no negative consequences.

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I'm out to pretty much everyone other than my family and their (my?) church. I work in academia and have a lot of liberal friends, so there's liberal christians, agnostics, atheists, druids, and they all get along. I don't know if everyone at work realizes that I'm an atheist, but if they ask I'm not afraid to tell them, and they do know that I have serious problems with my parents' beliefs. Many of the grad students are foreign and are surprised to hear that real people really believe that stuff, so I can safely rant to them (even the liberal christians) when my parents say something particularly wrong about evolution or gays or whatever.

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Well, I'm in northern Italy now. As you can imagine, it's nothing like Red State America. With that said, I would hesitate to badmouth the Catholic church unless I knew where the person stood. Then again, I guess the same would be true if I were in Jersey or South Boston or any other "Catholic" section of the northeast.

 

Back in Las Vegas, where I last lived, absolutely no one gave a shit. (Though I could see playing nice with the Mormons if you were aspiring to local power.) In Los Angeles, where I'm from... well, I was in a conservative outlying suburb that had a fair number of fundies, not to mention the Mormons were the local power. Buuuuuuut... I don't know how that would harm one's business (unless you were all super overt about it).

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Actually I'll correct my first post.

I'm not technically an atheist. I'm an agnostic, who if I applied the theory of differentiation to my understanding of God, would call myself an atheist.

But I don't call myself one because I don't want to associate with or be put in the same basket as those fanatical deniers of God. :P

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Because even if I am content with a low profile, sooner or later the topic will come up and I don't intend to lie about it if that happens.

 

I suppose you could tell anyone who asks, "I am on such a deeply profound spiritual path that I have taken a vow of silence" or "Talking about religion in the workplace makes me very uncomfortable." I worked for the gummint for a long time and short of an act of congress there was really no way to fire me. Governments like to take pride in their employee 'diverseness' so I imagine I could tell everyone I worshiped satan if I felt like it with little repercussion from management. Dealing with co-workers can be a bit different though. I am a closet pagan, which I suppose equates to atheist or satan lover in the eyes of the xians that worked there so, like you said, it is nobody's business. And if nobody is sure what your leaning is, they might be hesitant to throw out some atheist jokes in your presence. Or maybe they wont. :) In my buddhist days I got a lot of ribbing from the catholics I worked with. We probably need an ability to laugh at ourselves to a certain extent. That and a level of apathy. Another thing that made me feel better was that even though they picked on me, I knew that those catholics would be suffering in their mental prison of religion until death while I won't. So I'm laughing right back at those rigid thinking religious people. :)

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Hi, new here, thought I'd chime in. I worked in a law office, a Jewish law office not a funda "mental" christian one, many years ago. I had just started exploring paganism. One day I had received a package I had ordered and had delivered to my office, because I wouldn't be at home to sign for it.

 

The package contained miscellaneous books, and items of a pagan nature. I took the package to the store room to open it. No one knew what it was and no one but one nose-y woman cared.

 

I closed the package and placed it under my desk. While I was in the bathroom the nose-y woman pulled it out from under my desk and was plundering through it when I returned.

 

She was asking all kinds of questions, but I just sort of blew her off and smiled, a wicked smile! I was probably 22 at the time. Now that I'm older, I realize what an idiot I was was doing that.

 

The next day my boss called me into a closed door conference telling me that I was "scaring" the other girls in the office. I just gave him a big doe-eyed look of "what on earth are you talking about?"

 

This was before the whole anti-discrimination of religion, I think. Is there such a thing? It was a LAW FIRM I worked for!

 

Anyway, a few days later, after word had gotten around, the nose-y woman made some rude comment to me and another girl said, "watch out, she'll put a whammy on you," just messing with the woman.

 

The woman who made the rude comment avoided me like the plague. I think she attended the Church of God, or some other fundy church. She didn't believe in pants on women, or hose, or make-up, or cutting her hair.

 

Now, I had NOT put a "whammy" on this woman, but a month or so later, her teenaged daughter got pregnant.

 

Guess who got blamed???? Me! I'm female, I can't get anyone pregnant but me! And I don't know of any "whammy" that can cause a teenaged pregnancy, outside of the bible.

 

But, wait, things got worse. This new grandmother-to-be found out her husband's secretary was stealing from him, then she found out her husband was cheating on her.

 

Yep, I was pretty powerful with that "whammy"!

 

She moved away within a few months of her misfortune.

 

I had not done anything to that woman. She thought I had cursed her!

 

So, it was a running joke at my office to steer clear of me because I had some powerful mojo! It was ridiculous.

 

Now, over 20 years later, my husband and I own our own business in south Georgia. There is no way I would ever do anything around our customers to indicate that I am not a believer. Well, except for my son's hearse in front of the house, and not attending this town's little 8 member church.

 

These people down here are so involved in Christianity it's irritating. I actually had a man, in front of me, in line at the grocery store check out ask me if I was "saved" and invited me to go to Wal-Mart with him to pick out new clothes so we would look our "Sunday Best" if Jesus came, that day! But, I've learned to just smile and nod and if they ask me if I've been saved, I just say, "yes". (I was saved twice!) and if they ask me if I'm a christian, I say "yes". (Because, according to their own "philosophy, once saved, always saved, therefore once a christian always a christian.)

 

No, I cannot risk my livelihood by coming out as an unbeliever. It would be financial suicide down here in my neck of the woods.

 

And it's interesting too, that you don't actually have to attend church, so long as they think you are a believer. Thank goodness.

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I'm not big on labels, so I don't even make a habit of calling myself an "atheist" when I'm in atheist gatherings / meetups. My user name here is "agnostic" spelled backwards, but technically speaking, an agnostic is essentially an atheist, since an agnostic doesn't have a particular belief in a god.

 

I don't normally get into religious discussions at work unless it's unavoidable or the individual seems open-minded. I did have a couple run-ins with one religious co-worker who just wouldn't shut up after I mentioned a few times that I didn't want to talk about it (I finally had to tear into him, so I blew away all his arguments and stumped him with tough questions and Bible problems -- which was kind of funny, given that he's been a Christian for longer than I've been alive and I know the Bible better than he does). Another person I opened up with at work turned out to be an ex-christian who doesn't believe in religion but sort of believes in the paranormal; we've had some pretty good discussions.

 

Otherwise, I tend to not say much. After all, work is work, and we're there to work, not to spread our worldviews. Also, I don't want to offend the wrong person and end up being discriminated against (yeah, it's illegal to discriminate based on religious perspective, but it can be difficult to prove discrimination, even when it's obvious to the victim).

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Lucky me, my work place is theater, where just about everyone assumes that everyone else is an atheist or an agnostic, and where any rabid religionist is regarded with mild curiosity or apathy.

 

Such is the blessing of being in the majority! :P

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