Posts Tagged ‘visibility’

Who’s The Better Atheist?

 Lately my husband and I have debated about which of us is a better Atheist.

He is from a country where religion is less central to society and there is little pressure to have any belief. Many people there probably walk around their whole lives without ever having to think about or discuss their beliefs concerning a deity. He has always been an Atheist, although he never felt the need to label himself until coming to America, where the assumption of belief is part of the dominant culture. 

I however, am deconverted from a devout belief in god. I also grew up in rather conservative parts of America.

We often discuss the extent that religion is institutionalized in American society. The differences in our previous programming are evident. He doesn’t fully appreciate how most Americans view non-belief. He is proud of our non-belief and does not hide in any closet. He sees it as the most normal thing in the world.  On the other hand, I, the VisibleAtheist, am more cautious.

Visible is a notion I aspire to, not one that I have accomplished. I walk more gently when I am on “hallowed” ground. I know that some people WILL be uncomfortable if I inject the ‘A’ word into a conversation. And sometimes, I just need to get some work done, need to advocate for my child in a delicate situation or don’t feel like watching others squirm when I am trying to make friends. He is perplexed by my relative timidity in such situations.

I also have a profound respect for the few positive roles that religion plays in culture. I don’t know whether this sympathy is rooted in my personality or my religious past. Maybe it comes from a bit of both. However, my husband is more in line with the New Atheists in that he believes all religion is harmful, even in the context of culture. Perhaps this is part of his personality or comes from never being part of the “The Fold”.  Perhaps it’s a bit of both for him too.

On The A-Unicornist a fellow blogger referred to “Cultural Atheists.”  Adding this term to my lexicon gave me a framework for deconstructing our tension on the issue.  The definition of a Cultural Atheist according to The A-Unicornist is a person:

“who hails from a place where there is far less (if any) sociocultural pressure to accept supernatural magic as infallible truth. Thus, they tend to treat theistic claims about reality the same way they treat any other claim about reality – as claims whose credibility is contingent upon evidence

It reminds me of the different ways that Atheists often incorporate or claim Atheism as part of their identity. In my research I found that those who deconverted generally held their atheism very dear, were sensitive to societal exclusions and defended non-belief with passion. Anecdotally, I find that those who have always been Atheist are less connected to their non-belief as a part of their identity.  In short, I am more sensitive to just about anything having to do with religion and he is much more matter of fact in his knowledge that this is the way and the truth.

When we got married almost a decade ago I expected some cultural adjustments for each of us, but I never expected we would argue about who was a better Atheist. I guess it could be worse.


add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank :: post to facebook

 

Advertisements

Top 10 Ways to Be Visible

I am starting a list of the top ways that everyday Atheists can become visible and promote positive inclusion for non-believers. Ways that each of us can help to de-stigmatize Atheism and non-belief, promote inclusion in politics, public policy and general dialogue. I welcome your ideas, stories and anecdotes. Do we shout from the rooftops, wear quiet signs, make news, become activists???

I’ll get us started and add more as I hear from others:

Top Ten Ways to Promote Visibility and Inclusion of Atheists and Non-Believers

1) Teach your children about non-belief and provide them with language to understand the family values and how they are different or similar from the major religions around us

2) Write your congressmen/women as an Atheist. Find ways to relate your topic of concern (i.e healthcare, education, Darfur, etc) to the values that you hold and how it reflects on your personal Atheism 

3) Wear a sign. I jest, but not really. As an Atheist I am encouraged by signs of community – Darwin Fish, Atheist Unicorn, bumper stickers, etc. and am more inclined to be visible myself when these signs of “safety” abound. Others have suggested small jewelry that sparks conversation (One person commented that they wear a small ‘A’ on a chain.

4) Have Parties on Sunday Mornings.  Maybe subversive, but I love when others have birthday parties or gatherings on Sunday mornings. You are sending a message that part of the weekend is not off limits due to religious services.

5) Say the word “Atheist” a LOT. “Atheist, Atheist Atheist!”It is not a dirty word and the more others are used to hearing it enter the space between two people, the more they will understand, if not embrace the term. We all know those non-believers who defensively step-in with “well, I don’t believe in god, but I’m not an Atheist”. What an opportunity!