Thursday, October 22, 2009

Atheist Nexus Conversation

Recently I read a blog post on Atheist Nexus from an atheist in Sweden who expressed that "I do not understand why there is such a grand hullabaloo about being an atheist'. He went on to express that it shouldn't be a big deal, that we should focus on other parts of our personalities, 'the important parts'. Here is a link to the blog post:

This post disturbed me and I wrote a lengthy response detailing my experiences with being an atheist in Houston. I was never active in the atheist community until I moved here, but now I am extremely active and I encourage others to be active as well. I would like to share with you some of the reasons why I am active by copying my response to the blog post:

"In the USA we don't have the luxury of atheism as part of the culture, especially where I live in the Bible Belt state of Texas. People assume that I am religious and go to church. When I first moved here 5 years ago, people would ask me which church I attended as a matter of conversation. Usually this would happen at work in a professional environment.

I run an organization called the SECULAR Center. We do volunteer work in our community, and we are non-theists. A few months ago we called a nursing home to offer our help, and they told us that only Christians could volunteer there. There is such a pervasive mistrust of atheists here that they didn't even want us to perform harmless activities like playing games with and reading books to the senior citizes of the home. I explained several times that we don't discuss religion while we provide our assistance, but they were not willing to have us.

You might think by my experiences that I live in a small town in the country, but I don't. I live in Houston, TX. We are the 4th largest city in the USA, last I checked the listings. This kind of attitude is pervasive here and us atheists struggle every day being confronted with religion and religious assumptions in our communities. Atheists are the most mistrusted group in America, according to a recent report that I linked to and discussed on my blog at

There is an e-mail going around cyberspace that I've received about taking away 'Under God' in our pledge of allegiance. The subject line is 'If you Agree, Forward. If you don't, Delete'. The e-mail goes on to list reasons why it's good to have 'Under God' in the pledge and discuss religious reasons for doing so. At the end of the e-mail, it says something like, Anyone who complains that we shouldn't have God in the pledge should just SIT DOWN and SHUT UP!!!. Imagine how you would feel if someone told you to sit down and shut up for expressing your opinion. To me, it doesn't feel very good - it feels like my opinion does not matter at all.

I really wish that atheists around the world, whether we live in areas that we are a minority or whether we live in areas that we are fully accepted, would come together to further the atheist movement. We form communities around atheism here because it helps us feel less alone and it allows us to discuss our viewpoints and ideas in an accepting environment. It is encouraging to know that somewhere in the world, atheists don't face a daily struggle to be accepted as ethical and contributing members of society. "

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