First, I want to thank all of you for your positive comments and suggestions regarding my recent thoughts on Madelyn Murray O’Hair. As a result, I have written a letter to our local editor regarding religion and politics and am starting an Atheist Meet Up group later this month here in Beloit, Wisconsin. Again, you have helped me find courage to move forward. Thank you.
Lately I’ve been reading comments about the Richard Dawkins “Coming Out” campaign. I get the impression that many, who have been atheists for a very long time, don’t quite understand a whole new subculture of atheists which I’ll call “blue collar” atheists. Many of us do not represent the educated elite. We are middle class, paycheck to paycheck, struggling Americans. Religious indoctrination, which began when we were very young, has succeeded in keeping us ignorant and in the dark. Because of these long held religious beliefs we have shunned much of science, in particular evolution, and we have much catching up to do. We are very busy, everyday kinds of people who are desperately hungry for knowledge and want to try to catch up, but find little time to do so and few who support our new “ideas”.
Most of our “support” groups have been from our churches. Now that we embrace atheism we find ourselves having to break away from church and family members who see our changes in thinking as being “blinded by Satan”. Years of service to the church get summed up in pat phrases like “they must have never really been Christians after all” by people whom we looked up to and called friend.
The issue of completely “coming out” is not a trifling sort of idea for us. This choice will bring a great deal of upheaval to our marriages, our family lives, our social lives, and for some even work lives. Most of us know no others who are atheists and are hungry for like-minded friends with whom we can confide and share. I would suggest that those who have been fortunate enough to have been atheists for most of their lives, who are well educated and versed in atheism ideals, help us who are just starting on this journey. We need mature role models, teachers, and leaders. We need to develop friendships with fellow atheists – I know for me, this would be the greatest gift you could offer of yourselves.
I think we can change our world. I feel that the time is right to reveal ourselves – to finally start to be ourselves. Those of you who see all this as “old hat” – please don’t shrug off our coming out as something passé and of no importance. We need your help.