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12/19/2007                                                                                       View Comments

I think it is time to step out of my cocoon

By Stronger Now

So there I was, in a truck pulling a float in a christmas parade. A float celebrating the birth of Jesus, complete with a manger scene, and birthday cake no less. How did I get there, you ask? Well I'm really not sure. It seems like it would be against my volition to be pulling a float that was promoting Christianity, but I must say I was never really asked. I was conscripted by the Christian majority, whether I liked it or not.

I suppose I should bear the blame for this odd circumstance. After all, I could have put my foot down and refused to do any such thing. Of course that would have been tantamount to outing myself as an atheist and thereby calling my wife's worldview into question. For which she most certainly would have gotten blacklisted in the area and her little business would have went belly up in less than a month. Economic forces keep my wife from being her true self in the establishment that her business is set up in.

I dare say that monetary issues would be the least of our worries if word got out that there were an atheist in these hills! I can almost smell the torches burning. O.K., maybe not, but I would be really surprised if there were not some threats, and some difficulties at school for my kids, maybe a mean phone-call or two. The possibility of violence to my family is there, nonetheless.

So how did I get there? Well, it seems that if the majority holds a belief, it is easy for them to forget that not all will hold to that same belief. Especially when the non-believer is not vocal about their non-belief. It is a simple case of arrogance on their part. I was never asked, I was just voted the best man for the job. A job I didn't even know I was up for. My wife came home from work one day and said "Guess who's driving the float in the Christmas parade this weekend? That was two days before the event. My kids were already assigned to the candy throwing job on this thing. How could I disappoint them?

If I put my foot down and told them that I was an atheist I would have placed my wife in an uncomfortable position to say the least. It would have also furthered the stereotype of the evil atheist and his need to ruin the fun of the faithful in a most hateful and rude manner. Stereotypes seem to work well in keeping a person from dissenting.

I actually had fun. I love a parade. Watching kids run for tossed confections and seeing groups of strangers come out to wave and cheer. It was nice. Just for a little balance in it all, mind you, I would have given my left nut for a festivus pole or some such.

I might do it again next year if I'm asked or even just appointed. It's not like they were asking me to play Jesus in their passion play. I'd do that too, but things would be waaay different! The temptation would be too great. I wonder if I could make it out of the church alive? I almost hope I get the chance to find out.

This experience made me realize that I cannot expect to be left alone by Christians.

To offset this perceived minor injustice, I took it upon myself to seek out a local atheist organization. I gathered the courage to go to one of their meetings last night. The regulars here that know my story know this is a major step for me. I'll be going back to see this group again. I think it is time for me to step out of my cocoon and try to be the person that I hope to be.

10 comments:

pekingjohn said...

Dear Stronger Now,
Yes, you should definitely step out of your cocoon. You should simply tell people that you are atheist. Stand in front of the mirror and practice saying, "I am an atheist" over and over again until you feel comfortable saying it. And the next time you encounter the Christian challenge say, "I am an atheist" just like you practiced. You will feel a great sense of relief and have much more self-respect.
Stay in touch with your atheist support group. You'll need it. They will tell you how to handle the problems that come up. Also, visit atheist/skeptic/ex-christian web-sites often. You'll need to know how to talk to Christians in defence of your atheism.
Cheers and good luck!

AtheistToothFairy said...

Stronger',

I fully understand your situation.

In my years going from believer to non-believer, I got roped many times into some church function of my wife's, or other xtain family member.
While part of me SO wanted to say "NO" to the request, life isn't so black and white...but don't tell our xtians that fact.

Sometimes for non-religious personal and/or family reasons, one finds themselves in a situation that one wishes would fade into a realm of non-existence. A realm, that truly mirrors one of god and his son, and their own non-existence.

I'm surprised you have an organized atheist group in your area.
I'm even more surprised that my own area is lacking one, given how 'urban' it's become.
I'm glad you found that group and I'm sure they will offset the times you get stuck doing 'church' type stuff to maintain the status quo of your lifestyle.

As much as both of us would love to tell all these xtians in the area we live, that they are living a lie based on an ancient fable, most xtians when told face-to-face by us, would most likely take a very defensive posture to any argument that their faith is misguided.

I have found in my life that most folks are far more likely to change their opinions, if the reason to do so is presented in a non-personal manner to them (books, articles, tv shows etc). That way they don't see it as a more personal attack, but rather a presentation of alternate information to their own opinions.

I think the most effective way to reach xtians in general, is to do so thru whatever media we can use to enlighten them; including this great website!!
I think our job is to plant a few seeds of doubt in their minds, enough to make them start to search for the truth on their own, just like most of us did to get to this point.

So Stronger, if you're feeling like a hypocrite from playing a role in a xmas parade, then I say DON'T.
It's not like you were taking an active role by 'preaching' what you know is a lie.
Your mere presence alone in this parade, really didn't turn anyone into a xtian; that wasn't one already.


ATF(who has had to greatly contain himself, many times, from speaking his mind at such god functions)

jfraysse said...

Hi Stronger: I forgive you! No worries, man – You did the right thing for your family and you had FUN – It’s all good! Look at it this way – Religion is a Joke! You and your fine lady know it’s a Joke – The rest don’t or won’t admit it.

The Atheist group is good if it works for you, but life’s too short not to celebrate and you are “strong enough” to have fun even in the face of forced servitude. Just smile, wave to the crowd, drink some Eggnog (not while driving of course) and open a present or two.

Oh, btw, let me know if you get to be Jesus. I might drive to see you (I’m in Virginia). I’ll have Bud Lights in my Jacket like the guy in the TV commercial!

Merry Christmas, Stronger ! (grin)

Riley said...

jfraysse,
I work in NOVA, but live in Charles Town. I am really interested in finding an athiest group in VA or DC that meets once in a while. Do you know of any?

Also, speaking of getting stronger, I have been an athiest for over 4 years now. I still can't get the guts up to tell my best friend who lives out of state that I am an athiest. I can tell everyone except him. He is a simple southern baptist. I have rehearsed so many times, but feel he will do the same as every other xtian. Xtians tend to probe for the reason why you got hurt by god. I don't want to him say anything except to either accept it or not.

Honestly, it was something that hurt me at first and I started to question their truth. I should of questioned it from the beginning.
Since we are the subject of questioning the faith, I am interested in knowing how ex-christians did not get hurt, but just starting questioning the BuyBull. I assume there is always a specific turning point of question and I can't think of anything other than a negative experience (just as xtians assume). Because here is the flip side. If an ex-christian had no turning experience, how would one question their faith in the first place? The only realistic explaination I can think of is one did not look at any evidence in the first place (faith), but later did so. I would think that person may have been young and naive, but then later as an adult realized it was bull. I don't think xtians think of that. I guess I would tell xtians that I was young and then grew up and realized it is bull. Churches do love to shove the "born again" on teens. I noticed thinking back I was focused on less as a single, while the children and teens are focused on with indoctrination.

All in all, I would like to face my best friend, but its difficult. I thought about a letter, on the phone, or face to face. Its difficult because I have lose every friend that was an xtian. I know "maybe they were never friends to start with". Isn't that always the case. Christians with conditions.

stronger now said...

"Stand in front of the mirror and practice saying, "I am an atheist" over and over again until you feel comfortable saying it."

Sorry, pekingjohn. As you know atheists don't cast a reflection in a mirror....er...wait...is that atheists or vampires?

ATF, I should have put:"..."local" atheist organization."

It's really about fourty miles from where I live. My daughters dance class is on the same night and is on the way so, it's not that big a deal. Yes, I was feeling a bit hypocritical, but not uncomfortably so. I think I did the right thing here. I just felt that the christians will never stop acting like they can controll everyone untill they see the growing community of non-believers. I think I help this by by being more active.

Jfraysse, If I ever get shoved into playing jebus I'm inviting EVERYONE!!! I'll be wearing a flame retardant robe, a bullet proof vest, and a snorkel(in case they try to drown me in the baptismal pool). ;}

twincats said...

I'm one of the people who is "in the closet" at least, partially.

My husband and his side of the family know of my recent agnosticism because they're all pagan/new age types and wish me well no matter what path of belief/non-belief I choose.

My side is all Lutheran and other species of protestants. I choose to maintain family unity by keeping quiet, especially my fundy aunt and uncle on my mom's side.

We also live in a very xtian town and don't discuss our agnostic/pagan backgrounds with anyone here for the same reasons Stronger Now cites.

jfraysse said...

Hey Riley: Here’s a link to a group in the DC area.

http://atheists.meetup.com/27/?gj=sj21

A few of my co-workers in Northern Virginia recommend this group. Go to the site and check it out. Hope this helps!

clair said...

Okay, Darling, next time we will carry out your diabolical plan. Fuck driving the float. My husband (already looks like Christ) wearing the diaper and one sandal, screams when they try to nail him to the stick. (Other heathens are playing Roman soldiers, who yell back and tell him to shut the fuck up and take it like a man)Fake blood arcs high into the crowd, spattering everyone. Children look confused, asking parents why are they killing that man? Jebus breaks away, leaps up, takes off down the street, gross and swearing, squirting blood everywhere. "No, No, No, I changed my mind, fuck you people!" He zigzags between cars, other floats, always barely avoiding the grasping soilders, who scream at him to return and be murdered properly. In the end, Jesus hijacks Santa and refuses to climb down from the old mans lap until the Romans say, "Okay, Goddammit, come on and we'll get you a candy apple, and they do, and they leave after this production as quickly as possible. How's that, dear husband?

AtheistToothFairy said...

stronger now wrote:
....local" atheist organization."
It's really about fourty miles from where I live

---
Well Stronger',
I would consider even 40 miles distance to still be 'local' to me, well, actually it would depend more on the time factor rather than the actual miles involved.

Heck, driving an hour to meet up with like-minded folks, would never be something to complain about to me.

Who knows, maybe someone will eventually start such a group around my area.
With our kind growing and growing, it's only a matter of time before somone does.

ATF (who can still see himself in a mirror, in case you were wondering)

p.s. who's clair?

stronger now said...

My wife. Ain't she a hoot!